Chief Minister Sherdhan Rai’s US visit courts controversy

Published On: November 12, 2018 09:02 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

KATHMANDU, Nov 12: The visit of Province 1 Chief Minister Sherdhan Rai to the United States of America following his medical checkup in Thailand has courted controversy back home after he was found not receiving due permission from the federal government for the visits. 

Although Chief Minister Rai’s personal aides claimed that he had duly informed Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli about his visit, senior government officials concerned expressed ignorance about receiving any such permission to visit the United States. Chief Minister Rai was supposed to undergo medical checkup and return home. 

According to his press advisor Dhruba Subedi, Chief Minister Rai left for US via Germany on November 4 after doctors told him that test reports of his neck problem would be ready only after a week. Rai had undergone test at Bamrungad International Hospital after reaching Bangkok on November 2.

Talking to national news agency, RSS, on Sunday, Spokesperson of Province 1 Government Hikmat Karki, who is also the Minister for International Affairs and Law, said that Chief Minister Rai duly informed the Office of the Prime Minister and Council of Ministers of his trip. He further said that Rai’s personal funds will be used to finance his treatment and travel expenditure.

Officials at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) claimed that Chief Minister Rai did not seek consent from the ministry to visit either Thailand or the US. 

“He may have informed the Prime Minister’s Office. But we do not have any such records of seeking permission,” a senior official said, asking not to be named. 

Concerned officials at the Prime Minister’s Office could not confirm if Chief Minister Rai had sought permission to visit the US. 

Earlier, the federal government had denied permission to Chief Minister of Province 2 Lal Babu Raut to visit the US. Raut wanted to visit the US to participate in a function organized by a Madhesi organization.

Rai’s visit has sparked controversy as he attended a program organized to felicitate him by the Federation of Indigenous People of Nepal in America (FIPNA) in New York. CM Rai’s press advisor Subedi said the program was not planned initially. 

Failure on the part of the government to introduce necessary diplomatic code of conduct to be adhered by the officials of the provincial governments including their chief ministers has caused confusions, resulting in controversies time and again. 

Officials at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) said they had sent a draft of diplomatic code of conduct for the office bearers of the local, provincial and federal governments to the Office of the Prime Minister and Council of Minister long ago. But as the Prime Minister’s office took a long time to review it, the diplomatic code is yet to come into effect.

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