As the COVID-19 has taken the world by storm, political activities in Nepal have come to a standstill. The parties have decided to put off their programmes so as to avoid the risks of novel coronavirus that has claimed the lives of over 8,000 to date. The COVID-19 breakout fear has led to the suspensions of legislative activities, restriction of the people’s mobility and isolation or deaths of multiple politicians, and rescheduling of elections. The ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) has put off all meetings and political activities as per the government’s decision not to organise mass meetings. Considering the fear of outbreak, NCP secretariat postponed the central committee meeting. Along with the central committee meeting, the NCP has also postponed district-level conferences and cadres training for the time being. Dev Bahadur Gurung, chief whip of NCP, asserted that since the fear of COVID-19 had generated fear among the people across the world, it’s natural for the party to postpone all its activities to contain the spread of the virus.
Solidarity “The party is compelled to put off all its activities considering the safety of the party cadres and public. This will also give a message to the public that organising mass meetings is not safe when the country is facing the risk of disease outbreak,” he said. Likewise, expressing its solidarity with the government’s decision, the opposition Nepali Congress has also postponed all its formal events and gatherings until further notice. Though the establishment side of the party has shown its solidarity with the government’s move, leader Shekhar Koirala has recently organised several meetings and campaigns targeting the upcoming party’s 14th general convention. Koirala has faced huge criticism within the party for organising carders meeting without taking any preventive measures to control COVID-19. This seems opposition party is not sensitive about the disease and its possible outbreak in the country. In this regard, the Central Office of NC had directed Koirala to return to Kathmandu and cancel all the meetings. As per the direction of the party president Sher Bahadur Deuba, party spokesperson Bishwa Prakash Sharma issued an instruction to Koirala to return from Gorkha where he was busy holding meetings with his followers. The party’s 14th general convention is scheduled to be held next year. Koirala is a potential candidate for the party president and had been travelling all over the country to meet the party cadres to create favorable environment for him to get elected as new president. Koirala said he has carefully completed pre-scheduled mass meetings and activities and he had no more plans for the further meetings. During the mass meetings, he was involved in generating awareness of the COVID-19. Like NC and NCP, other political parties have also postponed their political activities amid the fear of COVID-19 outbreak. Nepal has already cancelled all the international conferences and meetings. However, the parliament is still running. Commenting on this, chief whip Gurung said the parliament and committee meeting could not continue its session in such situation. As Gurung said, the government and all concerned stakeholders should seriously think about cancelling all the mass gathering when the whole world in battling against the virus pandemic. This is not right time to promote party but to think about the safety of the people and their health, Gurung said. Lesson Parties should learn the lesson from the meeting of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) which was conducted through video conference. On this Sunday, leaders of all SAARC countries participated in the conference held to formulate a joint strategy for curbing the spread of novel coronavirus in the region. Despite his health, Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli participated in the conference which was proposed by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The government should adopt advance technology for the safety of the people.