CM Sherdhan Rai’s US visit controversial

Kathmandu, November 10

Chief Minister of Province 1 Sherdhan Rai, who is close to Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli, flew to the United States ‘without seeking permission from the federal government’.

His controversial visit came to light after a journalist of Nepali origin was beaten, allegedly, by a loyalist of CM Rai in New York ‘for exposing the visit as not sanctioned by the central government.’

Rai had told the public he was going to Bangkok on November 2 for treatment but he reached the US on November 6.

“The Cabinet had approved his visit to Thailand for treatment but I do not know about his other visits,” an official at the Office of the Prime Minister and Council of Ministers told The Himalayan Times. Sources at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Prime Minister Oli’s secretariat said they did not know whether Chief Minister Rai’s US visit was approved.

A minister in the federal Cabinet said the agenda of CM Rai’s US visit was not tabled in the Cabinet meeting. “The prime minister is all-in-all in our political system, he might have gone to the US with the PM’s informal consent,” the minister told THT.

PM Oli’s Chief Adviser Bisnu Rimal told THT it was a private visit and Rai had informed the PMO.

According to a senior member of PM Oli’s secretariat, CM Rai might not have visited the US without the PM’s consent because earlier Province 2 Chief Minister Lal Babu Raut could not visit the US as his request for permission was turned down by the federal Cabinet. As per the law, provincial chief ministers or ministers must get permission from the federal government if they want to visit a foreign country.

Chief Minister Rai was welcomed by Acting Consul General Pushparaj Bhattarai at Newark International Airport in New Jersey on Tuesday.

His visit became controversial after CM Rai’s loyalist allegedly beat up Nepali journalist Lok Mani Rai in New York after he wrote that CM Rai had flown to the US without seeking the federal government’s permission.

Journalist Rai wrote in his facebook post that he was beaten by CM Rai’s loyalist Umesh Rai. He has posted a photo in which he is being treated in a hospital. Journalist Rai has appealed to bring the offender to book.

Province 1 Minister of Internal Affairs and Law and Acting Chief Minister Hikmat Karki told THT, “Our chief minister went to Bangkok for treatment and he also privately visited the US as per our Cabinet decision.”  He also claimed that CM Rai had sought permission from the federal government for his foreign visits. He said CM Rai would pay for his trip as well as his treatment. “CM Rai went to the US via Germany with the consent of the Cabinet. He will resume duty after returning to the country.”