National

House braces for opposition-ruling party showdown

  • Nepali Congress obstructs Parliament proceedings over Medical Education Bill, a concern of fasting KC
- TIKA R PRADHAN, Kathmandu

Jan 22, 2019-

Parliament braces for a showdown over the Medical Education Bill with the ruling party issuing a whip to its lawmakers to be present at the House of Representatives meeting on Tuesday.

The opposition Nepali Congress obstructed the House proceedings on Monday to block the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP)’s bid to endorse the bill.

The bill, endorsed by the parliamentary Education and Health Committee, was presented to the House of Representatives on January 13. The House committee had changed some provisions in the bill going against what the government had agreed with Dr Govinda KC, who has been on a hunger strike.

Congress lawmakers stalled proceedings of both the Houses twice on Monday demanding that the government first address KC’s concerns. NC lawmakers were demanding that the federal government take the responsibility of developing and running two hospitals that were announced to be established in the names of the late Congress leaders and former prime ministers Girija Prasad Koirala and Sushil Koirala.

However, NCP Chief Whip Dev Gurung said his party has clarified that some issues related to the hospitals had to be sorted out as the previous Sher Bahadur Deuba-led government had decided to allow Pokhara University to run the GP Koirala hospital. But the opposition leaders demanded that a decision be taken immediately. “We also called on them to hold discussions on the Medical Education Bill first, but NC lawmakers refused,” said Gurung.

 

NC lawmakers claimed that the Speaker had included the Medical Education Bill in Monday’s agenda without consulting with the opposition party.

The NC has called a meeting of its Parliamentary Party to chart out its next strategy at 1pm Tuesday before the Lower House meet at 3pm.

“We will oppose the move on Tuesday as well,” said Balkrishna Khand, chief whip of the NC. “The ruling party has remained indifferent to our demands. It is everyone’s responsibility to save Dr KC, who has been fighting for the people.”

Before obstructing the first meeting of the Lower House, NC Vice-president Bijay Kumar Gachhadar had demanded that the government address KC’s demands and the federal government take the responsibility of running two hospitals—GP Koirala National Centre for Respiratory Diseases at Dulegaunda, Tanahun and Sushil Koirala Cancer Hospital in Banke.

Urging the NC lawmakers to sit and allow the house proceedings, Speaker Krishna Bahadur Mahara had said they could raise their concerns during the discussions on the Medical Education Bill.

Due to the obstruction by NC lawmakers, the National Assembly was also adjourned. The next meeting of the Upper House will be held on January 28 after Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli returns from Davos, Switzerland.

Earlier the NA meeting was halted due to the obstruction by NC lawmakers. NC lawmaker Sarita Prasai told the meeting that the government was trying to dissolve the two hospitals to be established in the names of the late Congress leaders. However, State Minister for Health and Population Surendra Yadav clarified that government was not dissolving those hospitals.

NC lawmaker Radheshyam Adhikary said the government was inviting confrontations rather than seeking an amicable solution.

Published: 22-01-2019 07:32

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