Local politicians protest renaming of Sagarmatha Zonal Hospital
JITENDRA KUMAR JHA
RAJBIRAJ, Oct 29: The local leaders of various political parties have vehemently opposed a government´s recent decision to rename the Sagarmatha Zonal Hospital.
The government earlier this month had decided to change the name of the hospital into Gajendra Narayan Singh Hospital.
Due to the opposition from the political parties, the hospital administration has so far been unable to erase the name of the hopsital at the main gate. Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai, who visited Rajbiraj on October 14 after the government decision, was shown black flags by the local youths. Student unions of various parties have threatened stringent protests if the govenrment does not take back the decision.
"The hospital administration has yet to respond to our demand. We remained silent on the issue because of the Dashain festival. We are planning to announce protests after holding a meeting with all the student unions soon," said Jaya Prakash Yadav, secretary of the Free Student Union (FSU) at the Mahendra Bindeshwari Multiple Campus.
Local leaders of the opposition parties have blamed the government of trying to obliterate the 50-year-old history of the hospital. "The decision erases the half-century-long history as well as undermines Sgarmatha (Mt Everest), the highest peak of the world," said former FSU president of the campus, Samir Jha. "It is good to recognize politicians but history should not be erased in the name of doing so," he added.
The protesting side has also alleged that Health Minister Rajendra Mahato, who is also chairman of Nepal Sadbhawana Party (NSP), attempted to enhance his public image by renaming the hospital after the name of Singh, founder of NSP. Local political leaders said with elections on the horizon, changing the name of the hospital would be illegal.
"It is sensitive issue to change the name of a hospital to enhance political influence among the people at the time when formal announcement for the new election has already been made," said Sailendra Sah, the central member of Madhesi Janadhikar Forum Nepal.
According to central member of CPN-Maoist, Mahesh Yadav said the government should focus on adding more facilities to the hospital instead of changing the name.
Central member of Youth Association Nepal, Niranjan Jha, said that Health minister Mahato tried to gain cheap popularity by renaming the hospital after the name of a Madhesi leader.
However, Saptari District chairman of NSP, Sunil Jha said that changing name of the hospital should not be made an issue. He also claimed that after changing the name, other services will also be expanded in the hospital.