The PTI chairman and former premier had secured a victory on five National Assembly seats in the 2018 general elections, so he is said to be at the epitome of his political popularity.
This time, the party secured victories on all three provincial seats, after it faced a serious setback especially during the first phase of the local bodies’ polls in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa last year.
This proves that the party is still popular and Imran Khan is still a popular leader in in K-P.
The Awami National Party (ANP), Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F) under Fazl ul Rehman and their allies saw a complete defeat in the crucial battle. Simultaneously, Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) under Nawaz Sharif lost the crucial NA-108 (Faisalabad) and NA-118 (Nankana Sahib) constituencies to their arch-rivals.
It rings alarm bells for PML-N having lost in the provincial battlefield in July. The PTI also sent out a strong message in Karachi, ensuring a defeat for the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) candidate.
The question is whether Imran will be more aggressive after the ‘endorsement’ of his popularity in these polls.
According to seasoned analyst Sohail Warraich and electoral affairs expert Ahmed Bilal Mehboob, this in fact is going to be the case.
PTI workers take to streets in large numbers but don’t cast votes as enthusiastically. They also don’t have as much strength on the ground as on social media. The elections held a day earlier seem to have negated both of these commonly held notions.
The new armour?
Is the PTI chairman set to use his electoral advantage as a new armour? Some analysts do think it is the case. Khan is bound to use his fresh advantage to influence the all-important appointment due in November this year.
In fact, it has been debated that the former premier wanted to convey to the powerful quarters that he still is the most popular leader of the country enjoying massive public support.
Khan has frequently talked about holding the long march, and took an ‘oath’ from his supporters in the recent past so what effect will his poll victory have on this?
Analyst Murtaza Solangi says Khan may use his wins to fuel his Long March narrative and he has been successful to some extent in doing so.
But analyst Salman Ghani thinks the former premier would only have taken to streets had he lost the polls.
So where’s the PML-N’s vote-bank? Analysts think it is gradually declining and this is a serious cause for concern for the party.
They say it suffered the most losses in the elections and might likely face increased pressure because of it. The situation has also not only exposed the performance of Pakistan Democratic Movement, but it has also put the fate of the ruling alliance in question.