Nepal president to visit India?

Nepal president to visit India?Kathmandu, Dec 11- Republic Nepal's first President Ram Baran Yadav will visit New Delhi in February, making it his maiden visit abroad since assuming office last year, a newspaper reported Friday.

The daily quoted foreign ministry sources as suggesting that the president would leave for New Delhi on a three-day visit Feb 15 and that his meeting with his Indian counterpart Pratibha Patil was scheduled Feb 16.

But the foreign ministry in Kathmandu told IANS that the visit dates had not yet been finalised.

Yadav, a former physician who did his MBBS from West Bengal's Calcutta Medical College and his MD from the Postgraduate Institute of Medical Research in Chandigarh, became the first commoner to become Nepal's head of state, replacing erstwhile king Gyanendra.

Yadav became Nepal's first president after a historic election that saw the Himalayan kingdom of Nepal formally abolish monarchy to become a federal republic.

Though the 61-year-old was invited by Chinese President Hu Jintao to attend the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, he had declined the invitation, citing the political turmoil in Nepal.

But the Nepali prime minister at that time, Maoist chief Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda, accepted Beijing's invite to attend the closing session of the Games, triggering a controversy over his decision to visit China before India.

Traditionally, India, Nepal's biggest trade partner, has been the first port of call abroad for the country's premiers after assuming office.

When Yadav was elected president in July 2008, he was congratulated by Indian President Pratibha Patil, who extended an invitation to visit India.

However, he hardly had time to accept the invitation, being involved in a controversy since May this year.

The president, who is also the titular head of the army, locked horns with the Maoist government earlier this year by preventing them from sacking the chief of the army, Gen Rookmangud Katawal. Yadav reinstated the fired general, consequently causing the fall of the Prachanda government.

Since then, the former guerrillas have been leading disruptive public protests against the new government and the president. They have also kept parliament under siege, allowing it to convene only for a brief while to pass the budget.

Yadav's reported visit to India would create a piquant situation in the absence of a deputy to officiate for him.

Soon after the presidential election last year, Nepali lawmakers elected former Supreme Court judge Paramananda Jha to be the republic's first vice-president.

But Jha fell foul of nationalists after he took the oath of office and secrecy in Hindi and was ordered by the Supreme Court to take the oath in Nepali or face suspension.

Jha refused to take the oath again and consequently, since August, Nepal does not have a vice-president. (IANS)