Govt unlikely to address fasting surgeon’s demands

Kathmandu, January 18

The government is unlikely to implement the pact signed with Dr Govinda KC on medical education reform, as Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli today shirked responsibility stating he is not in a position to address demands of the senior orthopaedic surgeon because the ball now is in lawmakers’ court.

The incumbent government had signed a nine-point agreement with Dr KC on July 26 to end the medical surgeon’s 15th hunger strike. The doctor had staged fast-unto-death demanding reforms in the medical education sector. He had agreed to end his strike after the government expressed commitment to accommodate the content of the nine-point agreement in the National Medical Education Bill.

During a question-answer session in the Parliament today, leaders of the Nepali Congress reminded the PM of the agreement signed with Dr KC.

But the PM said the bill, which was supposed to accommodate content of the agreement signed with Dr KC, was in the Parliament and he did not have the authority to direct lawmakers or interfere in the parliamentary process.  “Lawmakers elected by the people have the right to make laws. They even have the power to change the government. So, I respect the supremacy of the Parliament,” Oli told the Parliament responding to a question posed by NC lawmaker Gagan Thapa on implementation of the agreement signed with Dr KC.

However, Thapa and other lawmakers reminded the PM that he was one of the heads of the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP), which had close to two-thirds majority in the Parliament, and that he was also the NCP’s parliamentary party leader, who had the authority to direct lawmakers of his party to follow his instruction.

But Oli said, “A PM who has the backing of majority of lawmakers cannot do anything. I can’t direct lawmakers but I can request them. However, I cannot give any assurance.”

When asked why his government had entered into an agreement with Dr KC, he said, “That was then, when situation was different.”

Statements made today by PM Oli clearly indicate that the National Medical Education Bill will not accommodate demands of Dr KC. The bill has already been endorsed by the parliamentary Education and Health Committee and has been presented in the House of Representatives.

The bill presented in the Parliament has not addressed majority of Dr KC’s demands. This is the reason why Dr KC is staging his 16th hunger strike.

NCP lawmakers told THT that there was very little chance of the Parliament incorporating Dr KC’s demands in the bill. “Generally, a bill approved by a parliamentary committee is endorsed by the Parliament as it is,” an NCP lawmaker said.