KATHMANDU, Feb 1: The government last week endorsed the controversial National Medical Education Bill 2075 in the parliament with majority, amid protest from the main opposition party Nepali Congress. Medical education reform activist Dr Govinda KC has been staging his 16th hunger strike demanding revision in the Bill since January 9. He has accused the government of breaching the agreement in the Bill reached with him in his 15th hunger strike, and is reluctant to end his fast-unto-death until the government addresses his demands. Meanwhile, Nepal Medical Association has decided to shut down all kind of health services throughout the country demanding the government take immediate initiatives to save Dr KC’s life. The Nepali Congress is also preparing to launch protest programs in all 77 districts condemning the government’s bulldozing move as against the parliamentary practice. However, the government has claimed that the Bill has accommodated 95 percent of the Dr KC’s demands.
Senior leader of the ruling Nepal Communist Party Jhala Nath Khanal, during an interview with Reporters’ Club Nepal President Rishi Dhamala at a radio program Nepali Bahas, reiterated that the government passed the bill according to the legislation and completing the parliamentary process. He added that the government will not bow to Dr KC’s strike. Excerpts:
The government forcibly approved the National Medical Education Bill in the parliament. The opposition Nepali Congress has slammed the government’s move as against the parliamentary culture. Is the country heading toward tussle?
Parliament runs according to rules and legislation. It is a globally accepted rule. Neither ruling nor opposition can force anything in the parliament. The opposition should not forcefully attempt to change what has been approved by majority.
Was it necessary to forcibly approve the Bill?
We have accommodated 95 percent of the agreements reached Dr KC.
Why was the agreement reached with Dr KC breached?
It is not always necessary to compulsorily address the understandings reached between the two parties. Agreement is understanding. The understandings can adapt some changes in order to find a common ground. Both parties should accept the changes.
Dr KC has demanded Prime Minister’s resignation and warned protest if the Bill is not corrected. What happens next?
Dr KC is free to do whatever he wants. But he should be aware of the consequences.
It seems the ruling party is encouraging the protests instead by forcibly passing the Bill. Will not this move add more problems?
The government implemented what has been agreed. We have completed all he parliamentary process to pass the Bill.
Is it suitable to force the two-third majority? The Nepali Congress has warned nationwide protest against the government.
Like I said earlier, we approved the Bill according to the legislation and completing the parliamentary process.
Wasn’t Speaker Krishna Bahadur Mahara was widely criticized?
Speaker Mahara was not widely criticized. As an opposition party, the Nepali Congress criticized him. It is normal.
Dr KC has been staging hunger strike since January 9. Why is the government unwilling to hold talks with him?
We have hold conversation with Dr KC several times in the past. The agreement was the output of discussion. How many times do we have to hold talks? The Bill was brought as per the agreements reached with him. If anything that need correction now is punctuation. Is it appropriate to stage strike repeatedly and bring new demands? It is not the way to run the country. The government will not bow to Dr KC’s strike now. The Bill has been endorsed with majority. The government is not in the position to reconsider or revise the Bill neither Dr KC is in the position to press demands. We know their intention not to let the majority government rule and pass the Bill.