Kathmandu, January 25
The House of Representatives today passed the National Medical Education Bill despite obstruction of the House proceedings and sloganeering by Nepali Congress lawmakers.
The NC obstructed the House proceedings as the bill does not incorporate all the points of the nine-point agreement signed between the government and senior orthopaedic surgeon Dr Govinda KC on July 26.
The HoR meeting scheduled to begin at 1:00 pm today started only at 2:00 pm. Mahara began the House proceedings while NC lawmakers were protesting from the well of the House.
NC lawmakers, who had prevented education minister Giriraj Mani Pokharel from reaching the rostrum on Tuesday, failed in their attempt today as marshals successfully escorted Pokharel to the rostrum.
Pokharel urged the House to pass the bill following which Mahara asked lawmakers to endorse or reject the bill through a voice vote. The ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) lawmakers supported the bill and Mahara announced the passage of the bill. Only Nepal Workers and Peasants Party lawmaker Prem Suwal voted against the bill.
As per the parliamentary procedure, the bill will be discussed in the National Assembly and sent to President Bidhya Devi Bhandari for certification.
Minutes after the bill was passed, Mahara adjourned the House till January 31.
Earlier, Mahara convened a meeting with the ruling and opposition parties but failed to forge consensus, as both refused to budge from their stances
According to NCP deputy parliamentary party leader Subas Chandra Nembang, NCP leaders told NC leaders that acting PM Ishwar Pokharel would address the House to express commitment that two hospitals named after the Koiralas would be taken up by the federal government, but NC leaders opposed the proposal. The government will take a decision on the two hospitals after the PM returns from Davos.
Talking to mediapersons on the premises of HoR, NC President Sher Bahadur Deuba said his party would take to the streets and continue obstructing the House as the bill was passed without giving the opposition a chance to discuss its provisions.
“When I was prime minister, the Parliament did not pass any bill or sign agreement without holding talks with the opposition. But today the government breached parliamentary norms and forcefully passed the bill without even talking to Dr Govinda KC,” Deuba said.
“Does the government want Dr KC to die?” wondered former health minister Gagan Thapa.
Ishwar Pokharel urged Dr KC to withdraw his fast-unto-death and support the bill, as it had put moratorium on the opening of medical colleges in Kathmandu valley for 10 years.
NCP lawmaker Yogesh Bhattarai said passage of the bill would make medical education accessible to aspiring doctors and students would not be compelled to go to foreign countries to pursue a medical education.
A version of this article appears in print on January 26, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.