Covid-19 makes political parties tread with caution

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Published on Mar 16, 2020 11:32 PM IST
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By, Lucknow

The novel coronavirus outbreak (Covid-19) seems to have started affecting political activities in the state, making parties switch to a go-slow mode.

For instance, the pandemic appears to have impacted the programmes planned by the Yogi Adityanath government to celebrate its three years in power on March 19. With two years to go for the next assembly elections, the government had initially planned a blitz, but not any more.

“While some of the programmes are likely to be cancelled, others might be organised in a ritualistic manner,” said a state government spokesperson.

When asked about the three-year celebration programme, chief minister Yogi Adityanath on Friday said that the state government had already announced that there will be no mass gathering at any programme.

“The government will celebrate but in a simple way. We will hold a press conference to highlight the achievements of the state government in last three years,” he said.

The state’s main oppoisition, the Samajwadi Party (SP), had a hectic week till Sunday as it held its national executive meet and then a membership ceremony. But the SP has now planned no major programme till March 23.

Also, the party has placed hand-sanitisers in most rooms of its party headquarters and at the main gate.

On Sunday, when SP chief Akhilesh Yadav held a membership drive, and a press conference, several party workers and leaders had facemasks on. Yadav’s security personnel, too, were seen using sanitiser at the gate.

“Although the party has not issued any orders as such, the party’s national president Akhilesh Yadav on Sunday asked all party leaders and workers to exercise caution and stay safe. We now do not have any major gathering or party event planned until March 23 (the birth anniversary of the party icon Ram Manohar Lohia). We have put hand-sanitisers in every room and washroom of the party office. We have told the workers and leaders that wherever they go, they may sensitise people on coronavirus precautions,” said former UP minister Rajendra Chaudhary, who is the SP’s state spokesperson.

Several outstation members did not travel to Lucknow for the SP’s national executive meet on Saturday. Maharashtra SP MLA Abu Asim Azmi, who is a prominent executive committee member, said: “I followed the health advisory of avoiding travel because of the coronavirus scare.”

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) workers would do their bit in creating awareness among the people on the do’s and don’ts for Covid-19, said UP BJP spokesman Harish Srivastava.

Citing a communique from BJP chief JP Nadda’s office in this regard, he said, “As a responsible political party, we are going to engage in community connect, ensure that people are made aware of WHO’s guidelines as well as efforts made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath to check the spread of the virus.”

“The BJP government in UP has quickly made efforts to contain the disease. We are telling people that while there is no need to panic, there is every need to ensure social distancing and take precautions,” Srivastava said.

Pragatisheel Samajwadi Party-Lohia (PSP-L) chief Shivpal Yadav has said that his party will not hold any political meeting, programmes, rallies for the next 15 days.

In view of Covid-19, the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) celebrated the 86th birth anniversary of party founder Kanshi Ram in a simple manner on Sunday, without the usual show of strength.

Party chief Mayawati herself did not participate in event and paid tribute to Kanshi Ram by releasing a statement calling upon the party workers to remain united and toil hard to capture power in the 2022 UP assembly election.

A BSP leader said the party had directed its district units to create awareness among people for sanitation and protection from coronavirus

However, the Congress, angry over the arrest of two of its workers, is in a demonstration mode.

Congress workers, some of them wearing masks, staged a sit-in against the state government at the Gandhi statue on Sunday and Monday.

The police had arrested two Congress workers over the hoardings they allegedly put up featuring the pictures of BJP leaders, in response to the name and shame hoardings put up by the Lucknow administration featuring anti-CAA protesters.

Meanwhile, Congress national general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, who is in charge of party affairs in Uttar Pradesh, has put up a one-minute video on Twitter, asking people to excercise caution and defeat coronavirus.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Pankaj Jaiswal is Chief of Bureau, Uttar Pradesh and covers politics. His continued interest in rural, distress, and development journalism, fetched him a handful of prestigious awards and fellowships. Pankaj is a photo-journalist too and tweets at @augustus29lotus

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