Govt ‘reaches out’ to opposition

Kathmandu, January 15

With the government reaching out to the main opposition party regarding the decision to scrap hospitals named after two former prime ministers, the Nepali Congress has decided to wait until discussions are held with Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli on the issue.

A day after the NC warned of ‘raising a storm in the Parliament and in the streets’, PM Oli today telephoned senior NC leader Ramchandra Paudel assuring him a detailed discussion on the issue in the next two to three days. “The prime minister called me today and said he would hold discussions with us in the next two to three days. So we will decide our next move after the discussions,” Paudel told THT.

The Ministry of Health and Population had begun the process of scrapping GP Koirala National Centre for Respiratory Diseases based in Dulegauda, Tanahun, and Sushil Koirala Prakhar Cancer Hospital of Khajura, Banke, following a recent Cabinet decision.

Although the ministry had forwarded the names of 11 hospitals, including the two above mentioned hospitals, to the Cabinet to bring them under the purview of the federal government, a recent Cabinet meeting approved only nine, excluding these two.

Upon learning about the government’s move, senior NC leader Paudel had yesterday organised a press conference here and urged the government to roll back its decision, or face decisive protest both in the Parliament and the streets.

Paudel had said the message the government was trying to disseminate by scrapping two operational hospitals named after the late NC leaders who had made immense contribution to the country was loud and clear and the main opposition party would give a befitting reply.

GP Koirala played a crucial role in ending the decade-long armed conflict by bringing the Maoists to the peace process, while the constitution was promulgated under the prime ministership of Sushil Koirala.

In April 2010, the Ministry of Health and Population had proposed to set up a 100-bed GP Koirala hospital. It received Cabinet approval in May and the government has already acquired 700 ropani land for the hospital.

As far as the Sushil Koirala hospital is concerned, the Cabinet had in February 2017 decided to open the facility. Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Health and Population Upendra Yadav had inaugurated the out-patient department at the hospital in June 2018.

Both the hospitals are currently in operation. The Indian government has also pledged to extend support to the GP Koirala hospital. “The two sides reached agreement in principle for the Indian grant assistance to support the establishment of Technical Institute in Far-west of Nepal, and the GP Koirala National Centre for Respiratory Diseases in Tanahun,” read the joint statement issued by the two governments at the end of the then prime minister Sher Bahadur Deuba’s state visit to India from 23 to 27 August in 2017.