Government instability is just about the worst thing that can happen to a country struggling to stay afloat amid a raging pandemic. The Oli government has been widely criticized for not taking the deadly virus seriously, the criticism starting with the opposition faction within the Nepal Communist Party the prime minister led. But corona has only been an excuse, an excuse Oli has used to hang on to power (for one, by putting off vital party meets) while the opposition forces try to bring him down over his supposed failure to control the same contagion.
It is clear that the only way the country will successfully emerge from this pandemic is through a broad political consensus and via a government formed on that basis. Such a government will solve two problems at once. One, the political actors will have to stop the blame game and take collective responsibility. Two, election under such a government will add to the legitimacy of the polls. Such a consensus will not be easy to come by; that should be no excuse not to make the effort though.
Even as political parties scramble for power, the Covid-19 situation is steadily worsening. Hospitals are out of beds and oxygen cylinders. Vital medicines are in short supply. When a Covid patient or just about any patient needs an ambulance, he or she will be lucky to get it on time. This despite the fact that potentially thousands of volunteers, all ordinary Nepalis, have been working 24/7 to fill the vacuum left by government inaction. They are helping arrange ambulances and blood plasma. They are also matching patients to hospital beds (when available). But even here government regulations have hindered their work.
It will be impossible to deal with this national menace on a piecemeal basis. Each of us needs to contribute. The government needs to be more responsible and responsive to public sentiment and the political parties come together in public interest. The volunteers need to better coordinate their efforts. Private sector organizations need to pitch in with both money and manpower. The rest of us can help by staying put in our own homes. Meanwhile, the task of importing life-saving vaccines must be expedited. At the end of the day, that is our only ticket out of the pandemic.
Again, our political leaders must show the way. Just as they joined hands to help the country transition from violence to peace at the end of the Maoist insurgency, they must now work together to take the country out of its corona mess. Otherwise there is a risk of people getting fed up with the democratic setup. If a democracy cannot come to the help of its people when they need it the most, what good is it, people will start questioning? Let better sense prevail all around.