Imran Khan is a sports celebrity first and politician last. His success is also in the same order because of his refusal to learn realpolitik and organize the party properly. As a celebrity Imran Khan is addicted to cheering crowds and gets depressed if he does not get it for a long time. That is the main reason for his reliance on streets rather than parliament to do politics. Like a good celebrity Imran Khan has also learned to excel in the art of using music, pop culture and other celebrity icons to generate crowd.
Another important thing to consider is that in last 19 years Imran Khan has made a lot of efforts for party. It is not possible for the party to let him lose face by not showing up in a rally. Behind the scenes though people are cursing the party for engaging in frivolous and wasteful activity that is tiring for the grass roots and take away energy and resources from doing other organizational work that is really important.
The crowds do come to rallies/jalsas and get sufficient entertainment but they don’t get anything in terms of politics. Because IK himself and those around him seriously lack basic understanding of politics and national dynamics. On Sunday once again it was proven that IK the celebrity can attract crowds but once again there was no political message. IK promised to do ehtisab but to his right and left were people sitting that are considered corrupt politicians by the nation. IK believe his celebrity appeal will overcome that contradiction and inspire people to vote for him. But the facts from recent past are not supportive of this assumption.
2014 Dharna was a total failure as PM did not resign and JC did not confirm systematic rigging although 12 young men lost their lives which is a heavy price for no results. In Gilgit-Baltistan elections IK once again held large jalsas but the whole PTI Gilgit team developed by JKT and SMQ/Saif cross over and joined PML N resulting in election disaster for the party. In Punjab by-elections there were two very large jalsas in Jalalpur Pir Wala and Wazirabad but we lost both seats with a huge margin. A very large rally was organized in Karachi few days before local government elections. It was so large that from Jinnah terminal to star gate it took three hours. I was working on Karachi local government campaign at that time and opposed a rally as I did not see any political benefit from it. I considered it a waste of time and resources. Since the rally was huge PTI announced they have already won the elections but when the votes were counted PTI could only win 7% UCs.
In politics rallies only play a small part in the overall success in the elections. So far it seems the plan for 2018 general elections prepared by JKT and SMQ/Saif is rallies, lottas/horses and establishment. In other words rallies to prove there is popular support for the party. Lottas to win constituencies to get numbers in the assembly. And establishment to ensure systematic rigging favors PTI rather than PML N.
I don’t think it is a viable plan and will not produce results. Same plan was tested in AJK elections and we were wiped out. The argument that party in center wins majority is fine but even IK expected that at least 5 to 7 will win on PTI ticket. That failure should be eye opening for all of us. The plan that can win elections in 2018 is: a good legitimate tanzeem; a wave built on well thought out manifesto that is believe able; and real delivery of good governance in KP.
Almost every newspaper editorial and oped pieces on Sunday suggested Imran Khan celebrity style politics will not produce results. But the one oped that was really hard hitting was from DAWN Editor Cyril Almeda. Here is last para from that piece:
The problem isn’t that Imran keeps trying. But politics is ultimately about winning. And Imran, the eternal bridesmaid, doesn’t seem to know what he really is: a loser.
Here is link to the Cyril Almeda Oped: