Opposition backbenchers stole the show at the Punjab Assembly yesterday.
The treasury looked all set to go in for the kill on the issue of power outages when Pakistan Peoples Party female members raised the slogan, replete with rhyme and reason: Khadim-i-aala jaldi aao, Aa ke 200 dam banao (Hurry up O chief servant, Come and build 200 dams).
The slogan was a play on a pledge the chief minister has made on several occasions, to build 200 dams in the province and rid the province of incessant power outages. After the passage of the18th Amendment, provinces can initiate power projects.
In a recent talk with the reporters, the chief minister had said that the Punjab government was working on projects that would produce 85MW of power, a figure well below the power the most populous province needs.
The ‘power politics’ can influence the result of the general elections that might be held this year. Long hours of loadshedding have made the PPP and its allies unpopular. Compared to the ‘full throttle’ opposition from the PML-N and the PTI, the Centre has appeared lacklustre.
The government has been in power for four years now. There would not have been a power crisis had the government been able to ensure that the Independent Power Producers run their plants at full capacity. Because of its failure to do so, this PPP-led government is perhaps the most unpopular civilian government in our history.
On the other hand, the opposition’s madness is not without method. The protest rallies are backed and even led by PML-N members. Add Imran Khan to the equation and you have the PPP and its allies in serious trouble.
There are signs that the opposition will push for a caretaker set up after the budget. If that happens, the PPP coalition will have no time to salvage itself, even if it wants to.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 30th, 2012.
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