Political parties are taking to videoconferencing apps Zoom and Skype and conference call facilities, to keep in touch with their state and district units, amid the 21-day lockdown to contain the covid-19 pandemic.
They are also using online resources to help the needy, especially migrant workers trying to reach their homes. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress are holding internal meetings on Zoom, a popular application for cloud meetings, and media briefings through videoconferencing, as well as WhatsApp and other messaging and social media platforms.
On Saturday evening, Congress’ social media unit held a meeting with over 70 senior leaders on Zoom, perhaps the first ever virtual meeting of its extended leadership, including general secretaries, state unit chiefs, chief of frontal organizations, and leaders of legislative parties of all states. “It was one of the largest virtual meetings we have held. With all political activities coming to a halt, the leadership felt there was a need to constantly be in touch for coordination, especially on how state units are working for relief activities. We used Zoom and are hoping to make it a regular feature," a Congress leader with the party’s social media department said, requesting anonymity.
“The key points that were discussed included setting up of community kitchens by all state units, establishing helpline numbers and initiating other relief activities. It was attended by general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, who said that like the Uttar Pradesh state unit, other state units too should volunteer for relief work," he added.
A day later, senior Congress leader and party spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi held the party’s first press conference via Zoom as reporters logged in to ask questions.
Now, all press conferences of the Congress, as well as those of other political parties, including Aam Aadmi Party leader and Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal’s briefings are being held online.
The BJP is also realigning its resources to cope with the lockdown. The national leadership of the party took to online communication to assign tasks to its state and district units. “The first task is to stop people from migrating to villages, then to provide food, water and, if possible, shelter to those who are on the highway walking to their villages. Every state unit and district has been instructed and there are daily briefings through videoconference and Skype," said a senior BJP leader, also requesting anonymity.
BJP leaders said the party asked its members to donate to the Prime Minister Cares Fund and regular meetings have been held in this regard with all 303 Lok Sabha MPs and 83 Rajya Sabha members. “We have asked all MPs and MLAs to donate, and also asked the state and district units to motivate people to donate. The focus is on relief and to make people aware about social distancing,"he added.
The Congress Working Committee (CWC), too, will meet on Thursday via video conferencing, said K C Venugopal, party general secretary in-charge, said on Twitter.
India has so far reported 1,218 covid-19 cases, with 32 fatalities, with Sunday alone recording 155 fresh cases.