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Opposition blocks government bid to push medical education bill

- TIKA R PRADHAN, Kathmandu

Jan 23, 2019-

The ruling party’s bid to push the National Medical Education Bill through Parliament failed on Tuesday after the opposition lawmakers obstructed the House proceedings. 

The main opposition, Nepali Congress, has been objecting to the bill, saying some crucial provisions in the bill were tweaked by a parliamentary sub-committee where the ruling, Nepal Communist Party, controls majority.

The government had reached a deal on July 26 with Dr Govinda KC that it would endorse the bill without making any amendments to it. Following the sub-committee’s move of amending some provisions, KC launched his 16th hunger strike 14 days ago, demanding that the bill is passed in its original form. 

A showdown between the ruling and the opposition parties on Tuesday was very much expected, following the ruling communist party’s whip the previous day to its lawmakers for their compulsory presence at the House meeting. On Tuesday afternoon, less than an hour before the scheduled 3pm House meeting, the Parliamentary Secretariat issued the business list for the day, which had only one agenda—presenting the bill for its endorsement. An earlier business list, however, had seven agendas for the day.

 

As soon as the House meeting commenced, NC’s Prakash Man Singh spoke in protest of the government’s decision to scrap two hospitals in the names of the party’s late leaders—Girija Prasad Koirala and Sushil Koirala. And after that, it was a pandemonium in Parliament.After NC lawmakers started shouting slogans, Speaker Krishna Bahadur Mahara postponed the meeting for 15 minutes When the meeting re-commenced, Speaker Mahara allowed Education Minister Giriraj Mani Pokhrel to present the bill. Pokhrel, 

however, could not make it to the rostrum, as NC lawmakers rushed to the well of the House and blocked his way.

Objecting to Mahara’s way of handling the parliamentary business, NC lawmaker Gagan Thapa, a former health minister, said the Speaker behaved more like a government minister. 

“If the Speaker continues to disregard the existence of the main opposition in the House, similar obstructions will continue on Friday as well,” Thapa told the Post. 

When commotion reigned supreme in Parliament, it looked like NC lawmakers had borrowed a page from the playbook of then Maoist lawmakers who in November 2010 had roughed up then finance minister Surendra Pandey while he was on his way to the rostrum to present the budget. 

NC’s Thapa said the way Speaker Mahara acted in Parliament for around half an hour was unfair and that opposition lawmakers were forced to protest. Following a scuffle-like situation, Speaker Mahara postponed the meeting for another 15 minutes. The meeting, however, did not resume. The Parliamentary Secretariat then issued a notice scheduling the next meeting for 1pm Friday.

NC lawmakers had obstructed proceedings of both House of Representatives and National Assembly on Monday as well. 

Published: 23-01-2019 07:07

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