Rallies are always a good way to get a party’s name out there. The happy, carnival-like environment entertains and offers an avenue for political or social movements to familiarise large population groups with their brand and general message but the specifics may be lost on many people who come to enjoy the revelry, rather than support the message.
University-age youngsters at the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) rally were abuzz with talk of how to increase turnout and get the party message to millions of people watching at home. But there were conflicting views as well, such as Arsalan’s, a supporter from Lahore. The young man was confident the rally would be a success but cautiously reiterated that success need not equal resignations.
He opined that the demand for recounts on certain seats would be seen as a victory for party supporters, stating, “We want the gold medal (resignation of the prime minister), but a podium finish would be acceptable.”
The young man was soon joined by another student, who did not offer his name but opined that a good strategy shift might be “increasing direct marketing at such rallies”, explaining that local party leaders at rally venues could try to convert political neutrals to their cause.
“We know that many people voted for PTI because they were let down by the performances of other parties in the past. Some of these people are not in our ‘solid’ vote bank yet so we need to try to make them into ‘Insafians’,” he said. He explained that local leaders could go to people at rallies who were not wearing PTI gear and explain to them how PTI manifesto objectives specific to these voters’ individual demands or priorities would improve their lives.
As the music blared, stopping only to allow for the odd speech or public announcement, Arsalan noted that while PTI’s objectives differed from Pakistan Awami Tehreek’s, any success for one would invariably bring success for the other.
On how long he was willing to stay here, he said, “Honestly, I hope it is not for too many days, but,” gesturing to his friends, “We will stay as long as Khan wants us to.”
Published in The Express Tribune, August 17th, 2014.
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