No headway as fast lingers

Monday, July 23rd, 2018 | | National

Even as the government maintains its tough stance against the demands of fasting surgeon Dr Govinda KC, informal channels of negotiation are being used to reach out to the protesting side for a way out.

Ministers have contacted members of Dr KC’s talks team. Foreign Minister Pradeep Gyawali talked to Dr Surendra Bhandary, a member of the talks team, on the phone on Sunday to discuss the crusader’s demands.

NCP Spokesperson Narayan Kaji Shrestha visited Dr KC at the Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital on Sunday evening. He is learnt to have requested the protesting surgeon to take medicines and join dialogue.

“Dr KC did not respond to Shrestha’s suggestions,” said Advocate Om Prakash Aryal, another member of Dr KC’s talks team. Shrestha said that both Dr KC and the government had reservations and that they need to take a middle path to reach a solution.

On the 23rd day of his hunger strike, Dr KC’s health has been “critical” since he has declined any kind of medication. “Doctors attending him say anything can happen anytime,” said Advocate Aryal. In one of his longest protests earlier, Dr KC ended his fast on the 24th day. Sources claimed that the government could come up with some kind of solution on Monday.

The government has formed a three-member team led by Education Secretary Khagaraj Baral to negotiate with Dr KC but formal talks have been stalled since Wednesday.

The Nepal Communist Party (NCP) co-chairmen, Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli and Pushpa Kamal Dahal, and NCP General Secretary Bishnu Poudel discussed Dr KC’s demands after he was brought to Kathmandu from Jumla on Thursday but there has been no change in their stance. Dr KC has refused to take medicines after he was airlifted to the Capital forcibly.

According to NCP leaders, PM Oli is still adamant that the fate of the medical education bill, the bone of contention, should be left to the sovereign Parliament.

Prime minister’s press advisor Kundan Aryal said Oli, who had been closely watching the developments, would be ready for unconditional talks with Dr KC only when the latter can take independent decisions.

Another of the PM’s advisors claimed that dialogue would resume “only when Dr KC is ready for it” as the government had done its duty of saving his life by lodging him in a well-facilitated hospital.

After Dr KC asked the government to form a more powerful team for negotiations, NCP leaders have remarked that the opposition Nepali Congress has “politicised” Dr KC’s issues.

“We’re waiting for the prime minister’s call for dialogue,” said Dr Surendra Bhandary, a member of the Dr KC’s dialogue panel, adding that the government had failed to budge even after people have started a joint hunger strike besides holding rallies.