Friday, January 25, 2019

Ruling party bulldozes medical bill through House

The ruling party today bulldozed the Parliament to pass the controversial National Medical Education Bill trampling on an earlier agreement reached with Dr Govinda KC. Refusing to acknowledge the main opposition Nepali Congress (NC), the Nepal Communist Party (NCP) used its two-thirds majority and hundreds of marshalls in the House to endorse the Bill.
During the forceful move by the government, House Speaker Krishna Bahadur Mahara is blamed to be sided with the government going beyond his non-partisan role. "It will have far-reaching consequences – in terms of politics as well as the future of the medical education sector – blamed the main opposition.
The government has moved ahead in an authoritarian style to push the bill through the House, NC president Sher Bahadur Deuba said, blaming the Speaker for failing to maintain dignity of his post. He also warned of more protests – both from the streets and Parliament – in coming days.
Demanding that the National Medical Education Bill be endorsed in its original form, Dr KC – who has been staging his 16th hunger strike for the last 17 days – had written an open letter to the parliament yesterday, calling on NCP lawmakers to abide by the agreement Prime Minister KP Oli had reached with him on July 26, during his 15th fast-unto death hunger strike.
The parliamentary committee – with the ruling party's majority – had passed the Bill amending some crucial provisions against the agreement reached with Dr KC. The NCP has claimed that the bill addresses 95 per cent of the fasting surgeon demand of reforms in the medical education sector. But manipulating 5 per cent has raised serious questions on the ruling party's intention either it wants to create socialist education system or acting on behalf of some controversial investors of medical colleges.
The NC had obstructed House proceedings on Monday and Tuesday demanding the government to run two hospitals named after Nepali Congress leaders and late Prime Ministers – Girija Prasad Koirala and Sushil Koirala – by the federal government likme the other 9 hospitals. Earlier, the government had excluded the two hospitals – among the 11 hospitals – from under federal government.
But the Speaker Mahara today increased the number of marshalls as the ruling party was preparing to pass the Bill by force.
With the beginning of the House, the NC parliamentarians started shouting slogans. Amid the chaos, the Speaker gave time to NC lawmaker Pushpa Bhusal to air her views. The fellow Congress lawmakers continued shouting slogans and moved towards the bell – after Bhusal finished her speech – but mobilising more marshalls, Speaker Mahara allowed education minister Giriraj Mani Pokhrel time to table the bill at the parliament.
Amid the obstruction of NC lawmakers, Pokhrel tabled the Bill, and the Speaker called for discussion. Since nobody from ruling party wanted to speak and opposition were busy in protesting, Speaker Mahara presented the Bill to the House for final approval. The ruling NCP lawmakers passed the Bill with 'yes' votes as there was no response for 'no' votes call since the opposition NC lawmakers were continuing their protests.
Mahara then declared that the 'Bill has been endorsed by majority votes.'
The NC lawmaker Gagan Thapa – also a former health minister – after forceful approval of the Bill accused the NCP (NCP) of playing 'politics of negation.'
Thapa also took exception to the role played by Mahara as the House Speaker. "The Speaker failed to keep his word as he had in the morning vowed to seek a solution through dialogue,” he said.
After parliament's fiasco, the fasting surgeon held a brief press meet at Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital where (TUTH) – where he is staging his hunger strike – and reminding the government of six demands other than the medical bill. Dr KC also clarified that he would continue his fast-unto death and demanded that Prime Minister Oli's resignation on 'moral grounds', as Oli failed to keep his agreement.

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