KATHMANDU, April 11: While the parliaments and their committees in many countries have been holding virtual meetings for coordination and monitoring of their response to the coronavirus pandemic, a new debate has started in Nepal over setting up an inter-party political mechanism for a similar purpose.
A few days after proroguing the session of federal parliament in the country, executive chairperson of the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) Pushpa Kamal Dahal proposed an all-party mechanism, in the secretariat meeting of the party, to guide the government, as it fights the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dahal's proposal for the mechanism comes at a time when former Maoist faction in the party -- led by Dahal -- is unhappy with 'unilateral' decision-making of Prime Minister KP Oli. Although some small political parties have also supported Dahal's idea, political analysts have termed it as just another attempt by Dahal to weaken Oli in the party.
"The government currently has nearly two-thirds majority, the main opposition itself is weak. So I see the proposal for setting a political mechanism as just a tactical move of Dahal to weaken Oli in the party," said political analyst Mrigendra Bahadur Karki.
Oli faction in the NCP is against forming any such mechanism, according to sources. Oli's confidant and former minister Gokul Baskota on Friday took to Twitter to oppose the idea of a political mechanism.
However, Dahal was not the first leader to propose a political mechanism to guide the government during the pandemic. Sajha Party Coordinator Rabindra Mishra had on March 28 first submitted a proposal to Prime Minister Oli to form a high-level all-party mechanism to coordinate, manage and monitor resource mobilization during the pandemic. Mishra has also urged the NCP executive chairperson Dahal and main opposition Nepali Congress (NC) President Sher Bahadur Deuba to lobby for a committee after the prime minister didn't address his demand.
However, main opposition Nepali Congress (NC) is silent over proposal of the all-party mechanism. "We have heard that Prachanda (Dahal) has proposed an all-party mechanism but even the ruling party has not officially discussed and reached a decision on the issue. The opposition party is not in hurry to comment on the issue as ruling party remains undecided," said NC spokesperson Biswa Prakash Sharma. "Our responsibility at this time is to support the government and point out its weaknesses."
Experts have suggested to the political parties and the government to properly mobilize the parliament and local governments for monitoring and coordination of the resource distribution while fighting the pandemic.
"Our constitution doesn't recognize any political mechanism so there is no need of such mechanism to fight COVID-19. How can such a mechanism, which was used to weaken democracy at the local level after 1999, be helpful in the fight against the coronavirus since we already have both parliament and local government," senior journalist Shiva Gaunle tweeted on Friday.