Indian Prime Minister Mody Visit to Bangladesh
Thinking out-of-box, breaking fresh ground, and building new bridges’ are some of the credos of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s diplomatic outreach programme in his first year in office.
Neighbours first’ is one of the planks of his foreign policy and he tried to send the message across right away by inviting all the SAARC leaders to his swearing-in ceremony on May 26.
His first visit was also to neighbouring Bhutan. Later he went on to visit 17 more states across the world in his first year, but could not make it to Bangladesh, a crucial neighbour.
Some believed his Bangladesh trip was delayed because of some long pending issues that needed to be resolved first.
Indian Prime Minister Mody Visit to Bangladesh
His government resolved 41-year old land boundary issue before finalising Bangladesh visit in the second year of his tenure.
Saturday, Dhaka will roll out red carpet to welcome him.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will receive him at about 10:15am when he will land in Dhaka airport to a state reception.
Bangladesh is encircled by India and security had always been a big headache for India until the ruling Awami League came to power in 2009.
For Bangladesh, equitable share of the waters of the common rivers is a big issue as almost all of them flow from India.
Teesta is one of them and a deal on its water is yet to be sealed despite intense diplomacy by Dhaka for years.
The visit that comes on the heels of LBA settlement will witness a flurry of engagements in almost all sectors, focusing on trade and connectivity.
The elusive Teesta water-sharing accord has left many frustrated, but Modi has signalled Dhaka of his efforts to solve the issue as rapidly as possible.
Sources privy to the visit told bdnews24.com all river water-related issues including Ganges barrage would be discussed during the one-on-one meeting between Hasina and Modi.
Foreign Minister Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali, however, on Friday tried to deflect criticism over the news that Teesta deal would not be signed during Modi’s visit.
“Everything does not happen overnight,” he said.
According to him, relations had already reached a “historic height” and from there “we can achieve many things by working together”.
India also lays importance to its ties with Bangladesh.
Its foreign minister Sushma Swaraj in a year-end publication said “building comprehensive and equitable partnership with Bangladesh is essential for the realisation of our vision of a stable, secure and prosperous South Asia”.
Modi’s visit has generated enthusiasm across the broad spectrum of society, from politicians to students.
Opposition BNP, which is known for its anti-India politics, welcomed the visit. Its Chairperson Khaleda Zia is set to meet Modi on Sunday.
Sabrina Rahman Archie, a master’s student at Dhaka University, is also eagerly waiting to see and listen to Modi.
“I am really excited,” she told bdnews24.com.
She has been invited to listen to the public speech Modi will deliver on Sunday before his departure.
Dhaka University and the Indian High Commission in Dhaka will co-host the event at the Bangabandhu International Convention Centre.
Archie believes Modi’s visit will be “positive for our relations” with India.
Dhaka University Vice-Chancellor Prof AAMS Arefin Siddique told bdnews24.com at least 1,500 people, representing almost all sections including teachers and students, are expected to listen to Modi about his vision on Indo-Bangla relations.
“We are delighted to be a part of this,” he said.
Modi, too, is elated about his visit.
He has written on his Facebook wall: “It is with a great sense of enthusiasm and delight that I visit a nation with which India’s ties have been very strong”.
India has already described his visit “historic” with Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar telling the media in New Delhi on Friday that the Land Boundary Agreement was the “centrepiece” of his visit.
His visit would kick start the process to implement the LBA ratification, believes Humayun Kabir, a former ambassador who served in India as a diplomat.
Both leaders will exchange the modalities of the implementation that will finally settle the long-pending exchange of enclaves.
But the former ambassador expects that being a charismatic leader, Modi should come up with a “new kind of vision” in water-sharing and overall management of all rivers that the two countries share.
A regime of connectivity will begin between Bangladesh and India as two bus services will be flagged off connecting India’s northeastern region.
But Bangladesh is eager to take the connectivity to Nepal and Bhutan.
The foreign minister also said this connectivity would show the way of sub-regional and greater regional connectivity that Hasina envisioned.
But India-Bangladesh relations always suffer from lack of domestic consensus in Bangladesh.
There is a political consensus in India about Modi’s Bangladesh visit, but the opinion is divided in Bangladesh.
Though the BNP has welcomed the visit, the party is still sceptical about what Bangladesh will gain from it.
Even before Modi’s arrival, BNP loyalists have already spoken about making public the agreements that would be signed during his trip.
The cynicism has put question marks over Bangladesh’s capacity to capitalise on the deepening India-Bangladesh relations.
“We must develop that capacity. We have to be united,” ambassador Kabir said.
News Source bdnews24