The Doctor’s Dilemma – And Ours

Maila Baje-
For the all the bluster and bravado they exuded in public, Prime Minister Khadga Prasad Oli and his allies must have been truly worried by Dr. Govinda K.C.’s latest hunger strike. This time, our serial self-starver was on his longest spell of self-abnegation that pushed him to the outer edges of his mortal existence.
Had our estimable doctor perished, there was no telling what might have ensued. Both sides were rattled by the ominous uncertainty.
At times, Dr. K.C. must have grappled with his own predicaments. He recognizes that civil society and public support for his cause is rooted in its nobleness. This time, there was a distinct political color as well. Leaders and parties that were wont to dismiss Dr. K.C. as a rabble-rouser during their time in power rallied behind him in strength. For the first time since the elections, the Nepali Congress seemed assured of its relevance. The party may not have been able to put its house in order, but it certainly seems rejuvenated in the elected house lately. A bevy of smaller parties, too, took the opportunity to appraise their self-worth and look quite sanguine. 
True, in the aftermath of the KC-government agreement, some parties have sought to clarify the extent of their solidarity with the doctor. But, then, they are also engrossed in political calculations.
Dr. K.C. knows that his heart and mind are in the right place. So he isn’t perturbed by the viciousness of some of the criticism he has provoked. One ruling party legislator even called him a murderer because of the lives lost on account of the hospitals closed as part of his protest.
What he must be pondering, though, is the pass things have come to. Here we have an elected government enjoying unprecedented support in the legislature. When the government doesn’t behave in accordance with its critics’ preferences, such broad support easily becomes a brush to tarnish it with. 
The authoritarianism tag was hung on the Oli government as a preemptive strike by an opposition enfeebled in the electoral arena. Over the months, the government has made the Nepali Congress’ task a lot easier through its haughtiness and impetuosity.
Does such collective bypassing of the normal political process really bode well for us? The qualifications and character of a sitting chief justice matters. So does the foundation and future of medical education in the country. Whether people in a free society have the right to assemble freely in any public space needs to be deliberated upon. But do we really need an individual to go on hunger strike, the Supreme Court to intervene and opposition parties to get so worked up?
With internal and external contradictions papered over for more than a decade now coming to the fore, Dr. K.C. – and others sharing his noble intent – will have no dearth of causes to espouse. Political parties on the sidelines are going through internal realignments and will grasp at any opportunity to alleviate their core contestations while maintaining outward resilience.
Geopolitically, it is becoming clearer by the day that our two immediate neighbors are determined to keep those farther afield at bay. And the West, having invested here so heavily over the decades, is not about to give up without a fight. 
Dr. K.C. sees many things ailing our body politic. Deep down, does he really believe he has the right remedies?

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