Kathmandu, January 21
The Federal Parliament is likely to witness acrimonious scenes between lawmakers from the ruling and opposition parties for the next few days, with both sides sticking to their guns on the National Medical Education Bill and the government’s decision to scrap two hospitals named after two former prime ministers.
The ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) has issued a whip asking its lawmakers to compulsorily attend tomorrow’s meeting of the House of Representatives to get the bill endorsed, while the Nepali Congress is determined to continue to obstruct the HoR until the government takes a decision on the two hospitals named after late NC leaders Girija Prasad Koirala and Sushil Koirala.
The NCP plans to get the bill endorsed from the HoR on the basis of majority despite the NC’s obstruction.
But NC lawmaker Gagan Thapa said lawmakers would continue to obstruct the HoR until the government took a decision to bring the two hospitals — GP Koirala National Centre for Respiratory Diseases in Dulegauda, Tanahun, and Sushil Koirala Prakhar Cancer Hospital in Khajura, Banke — under the federal government.
The NC today obstructed both the houses — HoR and National Assembly — for the same reasons. “We’ll not allow the Parliament to function unless the government takes a decision on the two hospitals,” NC’s deputy parliamentary party leader Bijaya Kumar Gachhadar told the first session of today’s HoR meeting before NC lawmakers stood up from their seats.
The NA meeting also witnessed a similar scene, with NC NA parliamentary party leader Surendra Pandey and Chief Whip Sarita Prasai putting forth the same view, followed by obstruction of NA proceedings by NC lawmakers.
The NCP had wanted to get the bill discussed and passed today itself.
Lawmakers from the ruling and opposition parties held a meeting following the disruption of the first session in a bid to forge consensus, but to no avail.
NCP lawmakers, including Chief Whip Dev Gurung, tried to convince NC lawmakers, including its Chief Whip Balkrishna Khand, that a decision would be taken following Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli’s return from the World Economic Forum conference in Davos, Switzerland.
“It is not ideal to take a decision in the PM’s absence,” Gurung said after the meeting, adding that a decision on the two hospitals would be taken at an appropriate time after Oli’s return.
On the other hand, NC lawmakers urged NCP lawmakers and Speaker Krishna Bahadur Mahara to postpone House proceedings till the PM’s return.
Although Gurung proposed that acting prime minister Ishwar Pokharel would address the House on NC’s demands, the NC did not agree to the proposal.
In the second session, Mahara tried to begin House proceedings by removing six other businesses from the business schedule and only keeping the medical bill, but NC lawmakers again stood up silently to obstruct the proceedings.
“The PM has already expressed his commitment on hospitals. I will again draw the government’s attention to take the opposition’s demands seriously,” Mahara told the House in his bid to convince NC lawmakers.
But NC lawmakers continued their protest, forcing Mahara to adjourn the House till 3:00pm tomorrow.
National Assembly Chair Ganesh Timilsena also adjourned the upper House after the second session till January 28.
On collision course
A version of this article appears in print on January 22, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.