‘Parliament, not street, is the right place to examine Dr KC’s demands’

-Ramesh Lamsal/RSS 

Kathmandu, July 21. Voices are growing that the dispute regarding the Medical Education Bill should be decided from the Federal Parliament, the sovereign body of the people’s representatives, and not from street agitation or through hunger strike.

The cognisant people are of the view that any solution sought outside the federal parliament which has the people’s mandate does not contribute to strengthen the democratic norms and values rather it disturbs the process and procedure.

They believe that the ‘obduracy’ that the impunity, anarchy and the thinking that alternatives should be sought outside the law which spread in the past in the name of transition should be continued were not digestible after the constitution implementation.

Prof Dr Govinda KC of Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital is on a fast-onto-death since the last 22 days. This is his 15th episode of the hunger strike that he launched in the name of reform in the medical sector.

However, according to the intelligentsia signs have surfaced that this hunger strike has assumed political dimension more than the topics related to the medical education.

The parliament alone is the place in a democracy to build opinion and take decisions. But any talks or agreements done elsewhere to sort out problems neglecting the parliament do not fall under the general characteristics of democracy.

According to analysts, although there is no room to doubt on Dr KC’s sincerity and intention, the developments that are taking place under his cover and the attitude of his supporters and backers give much room for questions.

That quality medical colleges should be set up in Nepal and that Nepali students should get the opportunity to study at an affordable fee have been mentioned in the ruling party’s election manifesto itself.

The government itself should invest in education and health sectors. This is also the desire of the general public. And it has been the government’s clear policy that issues should be addressed merely on the basis that someone has launched a hunger strike or from outside the parliament as in the past cannot be considered democratic.

The main opposition Nepali Congress obstructed a meeting of the House of Representatives (HoR) on July 16 over the issues of Dr KC when the government was saying that it was trying to find a solution to it through the parliament. The lower house is scheduled to meet on coming July 24.

The government has already formed a committee under the coordination of education secretary to hold talks with Dr KC and his team, who continue to refuse the government proposal for sitting in the talks table.

“A high-level commission is necessary to deal with the demands of Dr KC. The bill has incorporated the provision to this regard. But the move to prevent the bill to be entered the parliament is not democratic,” Education Minister Giriraj Mani Pokhrel reacted following the House obstruction.

The decision to halt services in the government hospitals at time when incidents of natural disasters are taking place and the risk of infectious disease is high is against the spirit of the constitution and irrational in view of humanitarian sentiments and citizen’s fundamental rights , according to him.

As he said, the government brought the bill through a general process without the suspension of rule as per the demand of main opposition.

Talking to RSS on the matter, ruling party Communist Party of Nepal (CPN)’s parliamentary deputy leader Subash Nembang attempts to seek a way out to the disputes regarding the bill from outside the parliament were not acceptable. This would weaken the people’s elected body. “We want the solution through the parliament.”

Assuring that the government would respect Dr KC’s demands and address them in an honest manner, he said it was against law and procedure to announce that the parliament would be disrupted if the KC’s demands were not addressed fully.

He further argued that that the problems could be solved by the Medical Education Bill presented in the parliament, and obduracy could not work on it.

To this, analyst Bhim Bhurtel observed that Dr KC was on strike even during the NC’s governments. Efforts were made to solve problems but just for time being. There were no concern and interest coming in solid manner for the reform in medical education, he added.

Bhurtel further argued that Dr KC’s agitation now become a political issue. So, it can be settled politically.

“It is wrong mentality to seek solution from out of the parliament as done during the transitional period. The parliament is the place carrying people’s aspiration. In the parliamentary system, there is none above people’s representatives. Now, the Speaker should bring both the government and the opposition in consensus and begin discussion on this,” he mentioned.

He even suggests the broader approach of solving this pressing issue by garnering views in the parliament from all members of the Mathema commission, Gauri Bahadur Karki and the members of his commission, noted doctors, health professionals, educationists and medical education entrepreneurs.