Talks between the federal government and Dr Govinda KC panel failed on Wednesday as the former refused to negotiate the provisions of controversial National Medical Education Bill that is the main demand of doctor on indefinite hunger strike.
The failure is grave setback because both the parties on Tuesday evening claimed their talks were positive.The two rounds of talks ended abruptly on Wednesday after Dr KC’s representatives walked away from the negotiating table, claiming that Education Secretary Khagraj Baral refused to talk on the bill.
They claimed Baral-led panel lacked the mandate from the government and it focused on other demands such as revoking the ban on staging protests at Maitighar Mandala and setting up medical colleges in every province.
The panel led by Dr Abhishek Raj Singh said it has decided not to sit for next round of talks unless the government gives commitment to revise the bill as per the spirit of its 22-point recommendations. The panel told the government to incorporate demands like imposing a moratorium on setting up medical colleges in the Kathmandu Valley for 10 years; mandatory for a hospital to run for three years before it expands into a medical college; allowing one university grant affiliation to maximum of five medical colleges and assuring 75 percent scholarship in government medical colleges.
“The government is highly insensitive though Dr KC is in critical condition. It just wants to deceive us,” said Dr Singh. The negotiations, stalled after Health Ministry officials forcibly transferred Dr KC to Kathmandu, resumed on Tuesday following the initiative of former vice-chancellor at Tribhuvan University Kedar Bhakta Mathema and Nepal Medical Council Chairman Dr Dharma Kant Banskota. They had informal talks with Nepal Communist Party leaders led by Subas Nembang that created conducive environment for the talks.
The government panel claimed the talks ended inconclusively as Dr KC’s panel demanded the Cabinet should endorse the 22-point recommendations they insist in the bill.“Their unconstitutional demand disrupted the talks,” an advisor to Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli said. Baral said the talks failed because Dr KC’s panel backtracked from the informal deal reached on Tuesday. He refused to give details of the deal. He said talks would resume soon.
Senior Advocate Surendra Bhandari, on Dr KC’s panel, said the government claims were wrong. “We informed the government panel for a commitment to start the process to make necessary changes in the bill,” he told the Post. “But they failed.”
Mathema, who led the panel that drafted health education policy, said the government must show flexibility to save Dr KC’s life. He said he was shocked to see the callousness of the government.“The government must realise saving Dr KC’s life is the most important objective now,” he said.