In Lahore, Maryam Nawaz, the Senior Vice President of the PML-N, has confined herself to conducting party meetings, while Shehbaz Sharif, on the other hand, assumed the lead and organized a substantial rally on the outskirts of Lahore City. This move appeared to validate reports indicating internal discord within the party.
This change in leadership roles came after a consensus to abstain from organizing a convention and rally for the party’s leadership. To prevent further negative feedback, the party decided earlier in the week to cancel rallies in Lahore and its vicinity ahead of the arrival of the party’s chief, Nawaz Sharif.
The first rally, held in Shahdara, received strong criticism due to its meager turnout and was downgraded from a convention to a corner meeting. The second rally, which took place in Thokar Niaz, was ridiculed for allegedly enticing attendees with the promise of financial incentives or free food. Both of these rallies were led by Maryam Nawaz, considered the new face and crowd-puller for the party.
The decision to change the rally plans aimed to allow former MNAs and former MPAs to engage with constituents and build momentum instead of focusing on costly and time-consuming rallies and conventions for the top leadership, which was seen as a potential source of embarrassment for the party.
According to sources, party leaders were not prohibited from planning and addressing their rallies. The restriction applied only to the top leadership, namely the Sharif family.
Maryam has since been engaged in meetings with union councillors, chairpersons, and leaders from various constituencies. She virtually addressed a rally held in Sanghir, Sindh.
In Sheikhupura, on the outskirts of Lahore, former MNA Rana Tanveer organized a significant rally, which was led by Party President Shehbaz Sharif. Hamza Shehbaz is also scheduled to lead another rally on the outskirts of Lahore City at Mustafabad, organized by former MPA Malik Muhammad Ahmad Khan, with the participation of Rana Tanveer, both of whom have close ties to Shehbaz Sharif.
Despite these developments, former MNA Waheed dismissed the notion of internal disagreements within the leadership. He clarified that the decision only pertained to Lahore City, with a focus on conducting a door-to-door campaign to generate enthusiasm before Nawaz’s arrival.
According to a source close to Shehbaz Sharif, special permission was sought by Rana Tanveer and Malik Muhammad Ahmad Khan to continue with their planned rallies, as they were arranged before the decision to halt rallies.
The division of tasks within the party was cited as the reason for the different leaders attending various rallies. It was emphasized that Shehbaz Sharif had to step forward to mitigate the damage caused by previous rallies and save the party’s image, as continuing with the previous optics would have negatively impacted the party, even in elections.
This rally reflected the party’s shift away from a confrontational approach and emphasized the importance of delivering progress to the people. It dispelled the idea of a single poster boy in the party and underscored that people would support those who can deliver results.