Supporters And Opponents: Nepali Style

Prem Khatry

What is the best way to know who is who in the above paradigm of supporters and opponents or critics? It is complicated, yet it is easy. It all depends on where you put yourself in the phenomenon that is in question. The answer may vary also according to the context. Take for example, if we are talking about day to day politics like the one in our country, Nepal, then drawing a Laxman Rekha (a hard and fast, inaccessible line drawn by Lord Rama warning Laxman not advance toward his spouse Sita, hence the name) is neither desirable, nor practical and possible. But there are myriads of spots where such a line is necessary.

Glaring example
One glaring example is handy here. Dr Govind KC is fasting for the 15th time. He has given challenges to all the governments that were formed, deformed, dismantled and reinstated during this time. And yet his historic hunger strike reaches square one. The government commits to fulfill his demands, asks him to break the fast, promises to abide by all provisions of Mathema report. KC smiles with hope and gets up. The world knows – there will be no affiliation for new medical colleges, the tuition fee will remain within the agreed upon limit, there will be medical colleges in the outer region, not here in Kathmandu at the moment.
Nepali Congress, playing opposition once, offered him juice and signed the agreement. The world outside knew – KC, CJ Parajuli and Deuba were once not only friends and compatriots during the Panchayat regime but also classmates. So, the people hoped, KC’s strike is now over. His very popular demands will be fulfilled and KC will sigh of relief along with his fellow doctors, students, their families and the entire people. But unfortunately for the poor, remote and disadvantaged people of Nepal that would never happen.
Worse days were in the pipeline for KC and he knew that. Every time KC raised the juice glass in hand with the help of the ‘government’ representatives he warned them in loud and clear terms: If the government doesn’t go ahead with the conditions agreed upon (meaning thereby – there will not be new affiliation to medical colleges in Kathmandu and necessary actions will be started to open med colleges outside also, etc.) he would start the strike all over again. That is, no lowering head to the ‘med mafia.’ Fourteen such promises and juice glasses have been wasted. Bagmati has disposed unlimited and uncounted number of cub/sec water during this time.
Now few words will be in order about the opposition. This writer listens to the Image FM mostly in the morning time while typing things. It is less than a metre away from the computer. When Dr KC was in strike the FM had an interview with no other than Dr Bansidhar Mishra, a dynamic UML leader from Tarai and a medical person himself. A bit earlier, he had reportedly named Dr Govind KC a ‘lunatic’ figure. This was unpalatable for the listeners, for all who supported KC’s strike as it directly addressed the need of the hour. Dr Mishra didn’t accept that he had used the sad term for KC but said the strike was meaningless as the UML-proposed medical college had stakes of many leaders and it was a plan to help people’s health.
Obviously, Mishra was very concerned about the proposed college. He didn’t elaborate why the move could be halted for the time being and move the focus to outer regions, for example, to remote areas of Nepal. In KC, Mishra saw a dangerous, preplanned and harmful plans and demands. He didn’t see anything positive in his demands. Following Dr Mishra, UML leadership was furious about the term ‘med mafia’ as if it was directed to them only. In fact there is always a big gap in understanding KC and his points. He wants a reasonably priced medical education, he wants poor people’s access in health, and a break in affiliation for Kathmandu based med colleges.
Why not take one new medical college to one Pradesh first? Dr KC could accept the juice glass if the government would go for that in written form. But it appears some individuals are ahead of some Pradesh. In an interview on Monday morning, Durga Prasai from Jhapa said he was all set to go ahead with the medical college plan and he is the only person to do so in that part of Nepal. It was obviously in line with Dr KC but he was not ready to support the cause KC is raising. Here was another kind of opposition from an entrepreneur.
Where is the end of this endless hunger strike, MOU and juice? Where is the end of opposition? When the cause is justified, why opposition? If the person, in this case Dr KC, is representing the voice of the voiceless why is the opposition required? Didn’t he say while lifting the juice glass that this could be the end if the government goes for the implementation of the agreements? He says that every time. The government –NC, UML or any other coalition for that matter – ignores the issue because it doesn’t serve the neo-capitalist interest that is at stake. And when Dr KC uses the term Mafia, they are furious.

Grave concern
This time the whole medical world in Nepal is showing the grave concern about this issue. They are behind KC and his cause. Maitighar Mandala is full of his supporters. Nationally known dignitaries have spoken in favour of his cause. Finally, the government is our ‘caretaker’. Health and education should be top priority of the government. So when one intellectual takes this stand, he should be honoured and his voice heeded. But just the opposite is happening. There is no silver lining in this dark monsoon cloud in our horizon. This is painful, to say the least.

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