KATHMANDU, Sept 3: The market is abuzz with recent reports of two incidents making headlines and becoming the talk of the town.
They are Nepali Congress leader Gagan Thapa's elevation in Nepali politics with the appointment as the Health Minister and the increasing trend of influential political leaders and VVIPs including former President Dr Ram Baran Yadav going to foreign countries for expensive medical treatment, draining state coffers.
The two developments are interrelated as well and people have grown to heavily believe that Thapa would go out of his way and dare do something good in health sector that is marred by health mafias lately.
There is a point in the belief that people have in Thapa to carry out reforms in health sector.
When Thapa took over as Health Minister, people especially youths became jubilant.
Their happiness spilled everywhere especially onto social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter while congratulatory messages flooded. Some projected Thapa as national hero or icon and pillar of youth's aspiration while others responded moderately and adopted a wait-and-see approach, saying Thapa would be tested.
Surely, Thapa will be tested as is the trend of Nepali politics. Nepali people hardly believe in political leaders because they talk sweet and make tall promises only to get to power.
Once they hold power they hardly look back at their made promises. This is a trend plaguing Nepali politics for long.
However, the case is different with Thapa given his progressive thought and daring efforts to do something for public good. Thapa is a politician with a progressive vision, who dare speak up for public good regardless of whether it goes against his party's line or principle. For example, he had been advocating for republic before the monarchy was abolished, even at a time when then his party president GP Koirala and some of his seniors were against it. Now he has been pitching for directly elected executive head, something which his own party is strongly opposing.
In general, if a political party leader dares speak up against party leadership regardless of whether it is for public good or not, his or her sustenance within the party is threatened. So was the case with Thapa when he was removed from General Secretary of Nepal Student Union, a sister organization of the Nepali Congress party. Then his party president was GP Koirala. However, such unfortunate incident did not deter him and he continued to fight for good with overwhelming support of mass public, especially the youths.
His image was further built as a rebellious and progressive politician when he led public mass to overthrow monarchy during the 2006 people's movement. Thereafter, he went to become center of attraction and attention of public mass and was elected as NC Central Committee member in NC's 12th General Convention with the highest votes.
Our country is desperately seeking a politician who goes out of his or her way to do something for public good even it means putting his or her position at risk. So Thapa was the best pick at this point of time. He has already pledged to address the demands of Dr Govinda KC, who repeatedly staged strike demanding reforms and ending anomalies in medical education and the health sector. This has also increased hope of the people. It is not that he pledged support to Dr KC after he was appointed the minister. He had been and is advocating for the support of Dr KC before long. To respond to one of the demands of Dr KC, Gagan Thapa had also registered a motion seeking deliberations on impeachment of the Chief of the CIAA.
Meanwhile, in order to curb foreign visits by politicians or VVIPs for medical check-up with money from the state coffers, Thapa said his ministry was working to form a mechanism to check the trend. As for himself, he also went further to say that he in the capacity of a politician or VVIP, would not visit foreign countries for medical check-up during his entire political life.
It is not easy to break the deep-rooted corruption and rule of mafia in medical sector however. Such corruption is being fostered with the backing of political parties, further making it difficult to deal with. So Thapa's road ahead are not that easy as he is sure to confront hurdles in every step, unlike his past as merely a political leader.
He has to serve not only his party cadres and supporters as a minister but entire people and has to become more accountable. However, he has also short time and much more on his table to do.
The people are also mindful that things like development and political system change cannot take place overnight. It involves a long-term process and needs good political system. So under these circumstances, it will be impractical to expect much from Thapa. But what can Thapa do is set an example for other fellow and future political leaders to follow, by doing whatever his previous counterparts failed to do for good in the medical sector. After all, Thapa, who represents youths at large, can also give the impression that youths can think new and carry out reforms once they are provided with the opportunity. RSS