Speaker Mahara’s bid to end House obstruction flops

Kathmandu, January 23

Speaker Krishna Bahadur Mahara’s bid to forge consensus between the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) and the Nepali Congress on the two hospitals named after Girija Prasad Koirala and Sushil Koirala and the National Medical Education Bill failed to yield results today as both sides stuck to their guns.

The NC, which has been obstructing House proceedings over these issues, has threatened to continue with the obstruction till its demands are met. Chief Whip of the NCP Dev Gurung said his party was ready to address NC’s concerns on the two hospitals but any decision on that could be taken by the Cabinet only after Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli returned from Davos.

The ruling NCP is, however, determined to pass the National Medical Education Bill without adding anything to the report submitted by the relevant panel, which has not incorporated all the provisions of the nine-point agreement signed between the government and senior orthopaedic surgeon Dr Govinda KC, who has been staging hunger strike to pressure the government to incorporate points of the agreement into the bill.

Mahara, who was blamed by the NC in the House of Representatives yesterday for ‘favouring’  the NCP, held a meeting today with  NCP Co-chair Pushpa Kamal Dahal and its General Secretary Bishnu Poudel.

“I have consulted ruling and opposition party leaders and am hopeful of peaceful resolution of the dispute,” Mahara told THT.

He held telephonic conservation with NC deputy parliamentary party leader Bijaya Kumar Gachhadar urging him to help end House obstruction. Gachhadar told THT that Mahara requested him to meet Dahal and try to end the impasse. He said the NC would not end the House obstruction until the government repealed its decision to scrap two hospitals named after the Koiralas.

“These hospitals are linked with the NC’s history and we can tolerate the government’s prejudice against them,” Gachhadar said. He said the government should also honour the demands put forth by Dr KC.

NC leaders discussed House issues today and would continue to do so in the Central Working Committee meeting and Parliamentary Party meeting scheduled for tomorrow and day after tomorrow respectively. Mahara had postponed the House of Representatives meeting twice yesterday due to NC’s obstruction.

NC lawmakers swarmed the HoR well when Speaker Mahara gave time to Minister of Education, Science and Technology Girirajmani Pokharel to present the National Education Medical Bill. Lawmakers from NCP (NCP) and NC had scuffled during House obstruction.

NCP (NCP) General Secretary Bishnu Paudel told THT that the ruling party had two-thirds majority in the Parliament and would use its strength to pass the National Medical Education Bill tabled by the government. “The opposition party may protest exercising its constitutional powers and we are also free to exercise our constitutional powers,” he added.

The NCP (NCP) is working on its strategy to pass the bill before Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli returns from Switzerland in an attempt to help the PM avoid any criticism that the passage of the bill could invite. PM Oli is scheduled to return to Kathmandu on Saturday.

NC lawmakers have been saying that the opposition would continue to obstruct the HoR until the government decided to bring GP Koirala National Centre for Respiratory Diseases in Dulegauda, Tanahun, and Sushil Koirala Prakhar Cancer Hospital in Khajura, Banke, under the federal government.

NC has been obstructing Parliament since Monday on the same issue.