Only hope of revising the Medical Education Bill ends after Upper House endorses itThe National Assembly endorsed the controversial bill amid protest from opposition lawmakers.
The only hope of revising the National Medical Education Bill to address the concerns of Dr Govinda KC, who is on his 16th hunger strike for the last 23 days, has ended after the Upper House on Thursday endorsed the bill as ruling party remained adamant on its position.
Despite serious reservation from the main opposition Nepali Congress, the National Assembly endorsed the bill through majority votes. The House of Representatives endorsed the bill last week, shielding the rostrum with marshals, and dispatched it to the Upper House. The bill will get the legal status once President Bidya Devi Bhandari authenticates it. Even though the president is authorised to halt a bill, there are slim chances she will take that step.
The assembly, if wanted, had an opportunity to revise the bill to give a solution to the ongoing crisis in the medical sector. The Congress and Rastriya Janata Party Nepal lawmakers had registered an amendment to the bill based on KC’s demands. The amendment proposals by NC’s Radheshyam Adhikari and Brijesh Chandra Lal of the Janata Party were rejected by the majority votes. Explaining the need for an amendment, Lal said the Upper House needs to show maturity by revising the bill to address the demands of KC. “The bill is against the spirit of the agreement signed with Dr KC therefore, the National Assembly needs to revise it before the endorsement,” he told the House.
Adhikari however, didn’t participate in the deliberations as his party protested the House proceedings by standing from their seats.
If any lawmaker stands from his or her seat, it is considered obstruction in Parliamentary practice. However, National Assembly Chairperson Ganesh Timilsina’s continuing the proceedings put the bill up for voting while Congress lawmakers were standing during the entire meeting.
The bill is against the agreement with KC which proposed restricting one university from affiliating more than five medical colleges and phasing out the certificate level programme by the Council for Technical Education and Vocational Training.
The supporters of KC have taken serious objection to the move of the Upper House and threatened to intensify the ongoing protest. “This is a clear case of institutionalisation of policy corruption,” read a statement by Solidarity for Dr KC Alliance, a network of the doctor’s supporters. “Now there is no alternative to garner more support to satyagraha (hunger strike) to take the initiative to a logical conclusion.”
The group has called for a demonstration in Maitighar and public places across the nation on Saturday.