The fast-unto-death by Dr Govinda KC has entered 17th day and his health condition is deteriorating further. According to recent reports, he has started losing consciousness and his frail body has become too weak to receive medication. In Kathmandu and across the country, civil society leaders and general public have come out on the streets to express solidarity with Dr KC. On Saturday, a number of professionals, including leaders and cadres of Nepali Congress and Bibeksheel Sajha Party, protested at Maitighar Mandala to remind the government of the urgency to save Dr KC’s life and address his demands. Public support for Dr KC is steadily building across the nation and is on the verge of being unleashed in massive anti-government protest. Yet, Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli, his cabinet colleagues and leaders of Nepal Communist Party are watching all this with total antipathy, doing nothing substantive to address his demands. The owner of B and C Medical College, Durga Prasai, who is said to have been exhorting Oli not to compromise with Dr KC to secure his investment, was even found to have said on a television interview: ‘it does not matter if Dr KC dies.’
It is regrettable to see, save for leaders like Ghana Shyam Bhusal, entire Nepal Communist Party machineries harboring such a dangerous and inhuman attitude toward Dr KC. This is reprehensible. Ruling party must read the writing on the wall. Dr KC has been unnecessarily dragged into political controversy as well. Ruling party and its supporters have started to accuse that Dr KC is maligning them by siding with opposition party Nepali Congress. Make no mistake. Dr KC has been fighting for broader reforms in public health and medical education for the last six years. And he has fought for reforms for longer period during Nepali Congress rule than any other party. The longest and the largest number of hunger strikes (four) he staged was when Sher Bahadur Deuba was the prime minister. Yes, the governments of the past did not respond to Dr KC’s demands until his conditions worsened but the fact that they had to finally heed his concerns and sign agreements with his team is the proof of the legitimacy of his demands. The government of Oli should not undermine Dr KC, for it won’t be able to.
We have sided with Dr KC because accessible and affordable health services and medical education is at the core of his demands. Nepal’s public health sector is in disarray and yet the poor have to depend on those health facilities while the political leaders have always found options to go abroad or visit the expensive private hospitals for minor treatment. Dr KC wants to change this situation. This is why he has found support even in the remote parts of Jumla. Women and elderly in Jumla have come out in his support and press the government to address his demands. They have found a savior in him. They are angry with the government. If something happens to Dr KC, it is going to irreparably discredit Prime Minister Oli’s government, nationally and internationally. If PM Oli is serious, we believe he is, about his public image, he must take Dr KC’s protest seriously and hold talks with him. He must forego his ego, talk to Dr KC and find ways to address his demands. The delay will be too costly.