It increasingly looks like the government is going on confrontation course with the main opposition in the parliament and, to a large extent, with people as well. This will be detrimental to much-needed stability, prosperity, development and overall governance. Which is why the government must be extremely cautious and be mindful of the consequences of working against popular aspirations. The development of the last one week points to fraught politics. The government passed National Medical Education Bill through the parliament despite strong protest against it by main opposition Nepali Congress. Nepali Congress had obstructed parliamentary proceedings last week mainly over two issues: Not leaving out hospitals named after their leaders from federal jurisdiction and endorsing National Medical Education Bill only by accommodating the concerns of Dr Govinda KC in line with the spirit of nine-point agreements the government had signed with him in July last year.
The government had promised with Dr KC to accommodate his concerns in the bill. But instead of heeding the suggestion of Dr KC (he had reminded the government of the agreements reached with him even before he sat for hunger strike 18 days ago), the government forwarded the process of endorsing the bill. Last Sunday, main opposition obstructed the House over the same issue. In four days in between, there was no dialogue between the government and the opposition parties, nor with Dr KC. They should have been talking to find the meeting point. None of this happened. Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli left for Davos of Switzerland to take part in World Economic Forum. If he had held talks with Dr KC, or even left the impression that his administration is trying to address the genuine concerns of opposition and Dr KC, it would have projected him in much more positive light in Davos.
There is now a standoff like situation between Congress and Dr KC and the government. Ministers and leaders from ruling parties have been claiming that Dr KC’s demands have been addressed by the bill that was endorsed on Friday. But they have not been able to convince how and which points of the agreements are accommodated in which provisions of the bill. There have been no attempts from the government side to reach out to Dr KC and talk with him in earnest. Meanwhile, Nepali Congress has accused the government of displaying authoritarian behavior and it has vowed to react through the streets as well as from the parliament. Congress also argues that the government has completely “bypassed” it even in key issues in which consultation with the opposition party is vital. Prime Minister Oli has returned to the country. Now his first task should be to reach out to Dr KC and save his life. Then he should also hold discussions with opposition party leaders and try to work out a solution. Nepal has found a two thirds majority government nearly three decades later. It should not degenerate so as to become the cause of problems.