NC’s Role In Parliament
The main opposition party in the House of Representatives, the Nepali Congress, is currently obstructing the House of Representatives business over the controversial Medical Education Bill that the government tried to table in the House. While obstructing the House proceedings, the NC parliamentarians have demanded that the government should incorporate the recommendations of the Mathema Commission in the Bill before its endorsement or they would continue to obstruct the House proceedings.
In a way, the main opposition is exhibiting its solidarity with Dr. Govinda KC who is currently observing hunger strike in Jumla demanding that the government must pull out the current Bill, which according to Dr. KC, was tabled with a view to benefit a handful of investors in medical colleges who are the supporters of the ruling party.
It seems that the main opposition party has now got an important issue - the Medical Education Bill, which has sent the widely popular senior orthopaedics to observe his 15th round of hunger strike. The NC has been obstructing the parliament proceedings for the past couple of days asking the government that it should address the demands of protesting doctor. It has also asked the government save the doctor who has now grown frail due to his more than two weeks of hunger strike. Owing to the NC’s pressure and the pressure created by the long hunger strike, the government has formed its dialogue committee to hold discussions with Dr. KC’s team.
Besides, the taking up the issues pertaining to Dr. KC and his protest against the Medical Education Bill, the Nepali Congress have attempted to raise matters which have now been attributed for causing a decline in the popularity of the present government. The NC has lacked required strength in the parliament to cause “real problems’ to the government, nevertheless it has attacked the government for what it terms as the government’s ‘total failure’ on delivering on its past and present promises.
The main opposition leaders say that the government has failed to deliver on the promises to end the cartelling in the nation’s private transport sector. The government, especially the Home Ministry, had earlier tried to dismantle the transport sector syndicate. But owing to the clash of interests among the ministries, the Home Ministry’s move has not produced any positive result. Similarly, as promised earlier that the government has also failed to book many national level contractors who are guilty of leaving many construction projects incomplete or carrying out their works dishonestly, which has incurred losses to the government coffers.
The issue of increasing inflation is another concern that has not been addressed by the incumbent government. Rather, it has been criticised for adding more taxes on consumer goods and others, which is sure to increase prices in the country.
Another decision of the government that raised the hackles of the opposition is the government’s decision to bar the people and political parties in organising peaceful protest and public demonstrations at public places like Maitighar Mandala and other places. The prohibition to hold peaceful protest programmes at these places drew condemnation to the government as people started to see the government’s decision as undemocratic ones that tried to trample on the people’s constitutional rights to exercise freedom of speech and rights to hold peaceful protests at public places.
As if these incidents were not enough, the government authority engaged in some activities that drew sharp criticism to the government. A week ago, the government authority stopped Vice Chancellor of Nepal Sanskrit University from travelling abroad. Not only it stopped him from boarding the plane at the international airport, the police personnel even drove him to the Prime Minister’s Official Residence at Baluwatar and kept him for an hour or so. They released him only after the plane he was to board flew out. The incident had drawn condemnation against the government.
All these events have provided enough ammunition to the main opposition, the NC, in berating the government and it what it called unjust actions. The main opposition party has played its role effectively against the wrong steps of the government. The Congress leaders are found participating in various programmes held to criticise the government’s recent actions. These leaders can be seen taking part in protests in the streets as well as in the parliament.
The sad thing about the NC is that the party is still a divided house, though it appears to have played the role of an opposition in the parliament and the outside of it effectively. The NC leaders are divided among different factions led by the party president Sher Bahadur Deuba, senior leader Ram Chandra Paudel and Krishna Prasad Sitaula. For all the deepening factionalism, the party has been able to exhibit a united face in the parliament and in the street against the government.
The Nepali Congress leaders, especially those who belong to young generation of leaders, are putting forth their strong voices not only against the senior leaders of the party in failing to guide the NC through thick and thin, but they have also been at the forefront in leading the protest against the government.
Many NC supporters believe that the party must support the issues, both political and non-political, that have direct bearing on the well-being of the Nepali masses. The latest actions give us a hint that the opposition party has realised its past mistakes when it failed to raise the issue or address the problems that pertained to the Nepali masses. This is one of the reasons that the then largest party in the House lost the elections to the communist parties despite winning more popular votes than the communists.
Now, the party has been taking up issues in the House that are of wider public importance. It appears to have realised that the party’s past careless attitude is not going to do it any good now when the unified communists are ruling the roost. It has to engage in activities that help it restore the people’s faith in the party that must work for the betterment of the people and the nation. The new zeal among the Congressmen is also likely to make the leaders aware of the importance of unity in the party, especially at this crucial juncture when the party has been relegated to the distant second position in the House and has no real strength to have its sway over the ruling party.