This was the point on which there was a last minute hitch with negotiators going through several revisions of the draft agreement at the Prime Minister’s residence in Baluwatar, and playing it back to KC at the Teaching Hospital in Maharajganj.
KC has said his demand for a moratorium on medical schools in the capital was to ensure teaching hospitals were evenly spread out in the country. Powerful figures in the ruling party are known to have stakes in new medical colleges waiting for licenses in Kathmandu however.
The Government agreed to a list of other demands, such as medical colleges not becoming affiliated until they had operated their own hospitals for three years, and a single university should not be allowed to license more than five medical colleges. Other demands included Medical Education Ordinance being implemented to the letter, all officials including the acting deputy be appointed to the Medical Education Commission, and a common entrance test be conducted.
KC started his most recent fast in Jumla after Kathmandu’s Maitighar Mandala was declared a no-protest zone. He agreed to be flown back to Kathmandu but only after police raided the Karnali Academy of Health Sciences, throwing tear gas and firing rubber bullets. KC also wanted Karnali Academy to be upgraded to enroll MBBS students.
There had been no dialogue between the two sides even after KC was taken to Kathmandu from Jumla on 19 July, with the Government actively seeking to discredit KC’s fast. It claimed he was being manipulated by opposition Nepali Congress and Bibeksheel Sajha, with one minister even saying the hunger strike was part of a “grand design”.
KC has signed 11 agreements with the Government in the past eight years, and this one appeared to be a make or break. Given the financial interests of the medical-political nexus, however, the NCP will be under pressure from investors to renege on the deal. KC likely suspects this; so even if he has called off this hunger strike, it may not be his last.
The original version of this article has been updated after Govinda KC called off his hunger strike.