Nepali Times

Panel set up to probe Karki

Tuesday, July 26th, 2016
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The Good Governance and Monitoring Committee of Parliament on Tuesday formed a panel to investigate the alleged interference by the Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) Chief Lokman Singh Karki in the medical entrance exams of Kathmandu University (KU).

But the panel is headed by a Member of Parliament who vehemently defended Karki during a meeting held   the same day by that parliamentary committee.

Last week, the parliamentary committee had instructed the CIAA Chief to attend Tuesday’s meeting to answer questions raised by Govinda KC, a Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital (TUTH) doctor who has accused Karki of abusing his power to interfere in the KU exams.

But Karki skipped the meeting, informing the parliamentary committee by letter that he is suffering from ‘a throat infection’ and ‘has been advised by doctors against speaking for one week’.

MP Janak Raj Joshi defended Karki in the meeting, arguing that ‘the CIAA Chief is just doing his duty’ and ‘it is unfortunate that he is being criticised’. Nevertheless he was chosen by the parliamentary committee to head the probe panel forming during its meeting.

KC, who ended his eighth hunger strike on the 16th day (Monday) following a four-point agreement with the government, had demanded Karki’s impeachment. In May, Karki had reportedly sent ‘a panel of experts’ to cancel the question papers prepared for the KU exams. The panel prepared its own question papers, and the son of one of the exam controllers scored the highest marks.

KC has also accused Karki of overstepping his jurisdiction by helping medical colleges run by his family members. The parliamentary committee had decided to grill Karki in the wake of Karki’s strike. But it ended up choosing Joshi, who also spoke against KC on Tuesday, to investigate the allegations against Karki.

 


Not a yes-man

Monday, July 25th, 2016
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A day after Nepal’s new Constitution had been promulgated last year, Maoist Chair Pushpa Kamal Dahal thundered at a mass meeting in Tundikhel: “India wants me to be a yes-man, but I refuse to be one.”

In 2009, when he went from being the Supremo of a guerrilla army to an elected prime minister, Dahal offended India by sacking Army Chief Rookmangud Katawal. Although President Ram Baran Yadav reinstated Katwal, many saw India’s hand behind the move. As a result the Maoists were ousted from power.

Dahal never forgot this, and launched a scathing attack on India, accusing it of meddling in Nepal’s internal affairs by unseating him through its puppets. He often referred to New Delhi as ‘The Master’, and UML leader Madhav Nepal who succeeded him as its ‘Servant’.

The war had ended three years previously, and with his landslide victory in the 2008 elections Dahal was over-confident. He thought he could do through the ballot what he could not achieve through the bullet, and tried to ignite an urban uprising. He massed hundreds of thousands of Maoist cadre from across the country, and filled the streets of Kathmandu with demonstrators for six days, but the attempted ‘coup’ failed and the Maoists left Kathmandu, utterly demoralised and disenchanted with the leadership.

Dahal was once more seen as a miserable failure, having damaged his party’s morale and organisational strength beyond repair. The consequences were serious: his party ultimately split into at least six pieces, the Constitution-drafting process got delayed, and by the time the 2013 elections came around the Maoists were only the third-largest in parliament.

Between 2009 and 2013, Dahal made efforts to regain New Delhi’s trust by promising to not repeat his mistakes. But Nepal-watchers in New Delhi remained suspicious. Last year, when New Delhi ‘advised’ Kathmandu to postpone the promulgation of the Constitution, Dahal found an opportunity to strike back. He revealed how Indian Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar, who had come to Kathmandu as Indian Prime Minister NarendraModi’s special envoy, tried to arm-twist him and other leaders.

The NC, the UML and the Maoists pushed the Constitution through, which India merely ‘took note of’. Dahal milked this for all the nationalist advantage he could. Nine months later, Dahal and New Delhi seem to have patched up partially. The Indians see KP Oli as being a bit too cosy with China. New Delhi newspapers over the weekend were gloating over what they saw as a ‘victory’ for Indian diplomacy, little realising that by doing this they made Oli an even bigger nationalist hero.

Dahal abandoned his partnership with Oli and the UML to switch his allegiance to the Nepali Congress, a move behind which most commentators in New Delhi and Kathmandu see an Indian hand — whether true or not.

However, although Dahal is better than Oli, many in New Delhi still do not trust Dahal completely, because of his reputation for being fickle with his loyalties. Those with long-term memories have still not forgotten or forgiven Dahal for visitingBeijing before New Delhi when he was prime minister in 2008 — a cardinal sin in the eyes of Indian officialdom. NC President Sher Bahadur Deuba apparently played a crucial role in convincing top Indian leaders that offering the PM’s post to Dahal was the only way to oust Oli from power.

Oli always had the gift of the gab, and entertained us all with witty repartees and wild promises, but he did precious little to alleviate the plight of earthquake survivors — or indeed the whole country reeling under the aftershocks of the blockade. In his valedictory speech to Parliament on Sunday, he cited the trade and transit pact with China as “historic”: a treaty, if implemented by future governments, could reduce Nepal’s dependence on India, and thereby reduce New Delhi’s political leverage in Kathmandu. He also showed his presence of mind by sending a Nepal Airlines plane to bring back the Nepalis killed in a bomb in Kabul.

As the new Prime Minister, Dahal will have to outperform Oli in all departments if he wants to revive his party through the next elections. And he will have to find solutions to vexing problems —within the country, not elsewhere—that he will face.

 


KC calls off fast

Monday, July 25th, 2016
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Govinda KC breaks his fast by drinking juice offered by a TUTH patient. Pic: Bikram Rai

Govinda KC ended his eighth fast-unto-death on his 16th day, following a 4-point agreement with the government.

He drank a glass of juice offered by patients at Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital to break his fast, and said that all should unite to end the existing institutional mafia in Nepal’s medical sector.

In a meeting between the government team and KC’s representatives on Sunday, it was agreed that the properties of Manmohan Memorial Institute of Health Sciences will be purchased by the National Academy of Medical Sciences (Bir Hospital). The government will provide grants to Bir Hospital for this to take place, and the hospital will run extended programs under the same Manmohan name.

Both sides concurred that the government does not need to take action to impeach the Chief of the Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA), Lokman Singh Karki  — which had been one of KC’s demands — stating the issue falls under the jurisdiction of the Parliament, where a parliamentary committee is looking into the matter.

The negotiators also agreed to amend the Health Profession Education Commission Bill: allocating up to 75 per cent of scholarships in government-owned medical colleges, establishing at least one medical college in all provinces, and prohibiting the opening of new medical colleges in Kathmandu for the next 10 years.

It was also decided that previous agreements would be implemented, such as the formation of a commission to regulate the MBBS medical entrance exams, and to determine the seat allocations and fees for the medical colleges.

Secretary at the Health Ministry Senendra Raj Uprety, who led the government team, was also present at the TUTH when KC called off his fast.


PM Oli resigns

Sunday, July 24th, 2016
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PM KP Oli informs Parliament about his resignation on Sunday. Photo: Bikram Rai

Prime Minister KP Oli resigned on Sunday ahead of a no-confidence vote which he looked likely to lose.

Delivering a long speech, Oli informed Parliament that he had already submitted his resignation to President Bidya Bhandari.

CPN (Maoist-Centre) Chair Pushpa Kamal Dahal had filed a no-confidence motion against the Oli government on Friday, accusing him of being ‘anti-federalist’ and ‘being close to those political forces that want to revive the monarchy’.

But the real reason for the CPN (Maoist-Centre)’s withdrawal of its support to the UML government was Oli’s refusal to implement a power-sharing deal with Dahal. In May, Oli had saved his government by promising to hand over power to Dahal after the budget was announced.

But Oli denied having made any such agreement with Dahal, resulting in the CPN (Maoist-Centre)’s decision to pull out of the government by signing another power-sharing deal, this time with the NC.

Ahead of Sunday’s voting, two fringe parties that had been in the ruling coalition – the MJF (D) and the RPP – also quit the ruling coalition.

President Bidya Bhandari will now urge all the political parties to form a new government. Dahal is set to lead the new government, backed by the main opposition NC and other fringe parties.

Meanwhile, Govinda KC’s hunger strike demanding reforms in the medical education sector and the impeachment of the CIAA Chief Lokman Singh Karki entered its 15th day on Sunday – his longest ever fast-unto-death. The major parties have been too preoccupied in their efforts to topple the Oli government and forge a new coalition, and have not paid attention to KC’s demands.

Students and youth activists have been staging protest rallies in support of KC. They demonstrated outside Karki’s office on Sunday. Police ran batons to disperse them, and arrested at least 19 protesters, who subsequently staged a hunger strike in police custody demanding the reasons for their arrest.

 


#IamwithDrKC

Saturday, July 23rd, 2016
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Pic: Bikram Rai

As the government has failed to address the demands of Govinda KC, who is into the fourteenth day of his fast-unto-death, thousands of supporters gathered at Maitighar Mandala on Saturday.

The solidarity rally was organised to apply pressure on the government to save the life of KC by meeting his demands. KC is a senior orthopaedic surgeon at the Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital, who has been demanding massive reforms in Nepal’s medical sector.

The campaigner’s eighth fast-unto-death also demands the impeachment of the Commission of the Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) Chief Lokman Singh Karki, accusing him of meddling in Kathmandu University’s medical entrance exams in May and also of protecting the corrupt.

The Good Governance and Monitoring Committee of the Parliament on Friday summoned the officials of the anti-graft body, including Karki, to question them regarding the alleged interference in the university’s entrance exams.

A meeting between the government and KC’s representatives on Friday ended inconclusively as they could not agree on withdrawing the Manmohan Memorial Institute of Health Sciences Bill tabled in the Parliament. One of KC’s demands is that the bill be withdrawn and the Manmohan Memorial Institute’s properties be purchased by the government and transferred to the government-owned Bir Hospital.

Representatives, from various organisations, youths, and doctors including students participated in the mass rally and chanted slogans such as ‘It is all clear, the corrupt are the ones at the CIAA.’ The mass rally went on for almost four hours and concluded with a corner meeting in New Baneshwor.


No confidence

Friday, July 22nd, 2016
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The house session on Friday night. Photo: RSS

CPN (Maoist-Centre) Chair Pushpa Kamal Dahal tabled a no-confidence motion against Prime Minister KP Oli in Parliament on Friday night.

Delivering a long speech in Parliament before tabling the motion, Dahal accused Oli of ‘using the Maoists as a ladder to serve his own interests’ and ‘conspiring to weaken the Maoists’.

“We did not want to break this coalition, but we had to take this step because of PM Oli himself,” said Dahal. “He showed an ego-centric and self-centred attitude.”

Dahal also dubbed Oli an ‘anti-federalist’ and ‘averse to republicanism and principles of inclusion’. “PM Oli has publicly said that he never liked the idea of federalism, and he was compelled to embrace it,” said Dahal. “In the last nine months, we realised that he does not even support republicanism and inclusion, and likes those political forces that want to revive the monarchy.”

Dahal himself had proposed Oli as the new Prime Minister in October last year. With the withdrawal of support by Dahal, the Oli government has now been reduced to a caretaker, and will be replaced by a new ruling coalition next week.

Dahal has already reached an agreement with NC President Sher Bahadur Deuba to lead the new government. Madhesi parties, irked by Oli’s indifference towards their grievances, have vowed to support the Dahal-Deuba coalition.

Backed by Deuba, Dahal had filed a no-confidence motion against Oli last week. But he could only table it in the House on Friday night, as Parliament had been adjourned three times due a dispute over whether to bring up the no-confidence motion first, or the budget bills.

Oli’s UML party had threatened to disrupt the House if the no-confidence motion were tabled before the budget bills. But the NC and the Maoists wanted to oust Oli before discussing the budget bills. After days of inconclusive negotiations, they agreed to allow the House to discuss the budget bills first. But they have voted against those bills, casting a shadow over the implementation of the new budget.

Parliament is discussing the no-confidence motion for three days. Members of Parliament will vote for or against the motion on Sunday.


House panel to grill Karki

Friday, July 22nd, 2016
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A parliamentary committee has decided to question the Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) Chief Lokman Singh Karki over his alleged interference in the medical education sector.

The Parliament’s Good Governance and Monitoring Committee will also grill all the Commissioners of the CIAA over this issue.

Orthopaedic surgeon and activist Govinda KC, who has been on a hunger strike demanding reforms in the medical education sector, has accused Karki of overstepping his jurisdiction in interfering in the post-graduate medical science exams of the Kathmandu University, for personal gain. KC has demanded Karki’s impeachment.

After Kathmandu University (KU)’s Registrar Bhola Thapa admitted that the CIAA had dispatched ‘a panel of experts’ to cancel the original exam question papers and finalise the new ones, the Committee decided to question Karki and other commissioners on Sunday.

 


 

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