Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit topped the agenda on Saturday for Bangladesh’s media, which provided wall-to-wall coverage to the trip expected to boost connectivity and trade between the two countries.
The websites of Bangladesh’s top newspapers, both Bengali and English, had Modi’s visit as their lead story and focussed on bilateral issues expected to figure in discussions as well as minutiae such as plans to prepare 100 vegetarian dishes for the Indian Prime Minister.
A report in the Daily Janakantha said 100 vegetarian dishes, including special daal, khichdi, dhokla and Bangladesh’s special sweets, will be prepared during the two-day visit.
“When Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi flies into Dhaka this morning, he will find a people ready and willing to offer him and his country the best in terms of friendship,” said a comment piece on the front page of the English newspaper The Daily Observer.
The visit, described by Indian officials as “historic”, made headlines in most newspapers.
"Modi flies in today, hopes so high," read the headline in the The Daily Star. "A visit of high hopes," was the headline of the leading Bengali daily Prothom Alo.
Soon after Modi was welcomed at the airport by his Bangladeshi counterpart Sheikh Hasina, the main story on Prothom Alo’s website was headlined: “Dhaka e Narendra Modi (Narendra Modi in Dhaka).”
The media reports detailed the events at the airport and Modi’s schedule for the visit. They said he is expected to visit the Dhakeshwari Temple and the Dhaka branch of the Ramakrishna Mission.
The headline of the main report in Daily Janakantha said the main aim of Modi’s visit will be to establish “deep ties” between the two sides. It noted that Modi had visited 11 countries after becoming Prime Minister.
Though Modi had wanted to visit Bangladesh much earlier, he could not because of the diplomatic hassles surrounding the conclusion of the bilateral Land Boundary Agreement, it said.
One of the top stories on the site of The Daily Observer said, “A number of deals in the areas of connectivity, trade, security and cultural cooperation would be inked between Bangladesh and India during Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's (visit).”
An editorial in the Dhaka Tribune said Modi’s visit “provides a chance to reboot bilateral relations by building on the recent successful progress made on implementing the long delayed Land Boundary Agreement.”
It added, “Improving bilateral relations is in the common interest of not just Bangladesh and India but of all the peoples in our region.”
In the lead story on The Bangladesh Today’s website, Gowher Rizvi, foreign affairs adviser to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, cautioned against propaganda over the Bangladesh-India relationship.
“There is a propaganda about Bangladesh-India relationship in our country till now. A group is spreading falsehood over the relationship. When BJP had come to power in India, the group started to say the good relation between the two countries will no longer continue. But it didn’t happen,” Rizvi was quoted as saying.
Rizvi further said that through an agreement with India, Bangladesh will bring back the remains of freedom fighters who died on the Indian side during the Liberation War of 1971 and bury them with state honours. Bangladesh will also pay homage to some 1,500 to 1,800 Indian soldiers who had died in the war.
Read: PM Modi begins 'historic' Dhaka visit, thanks Sheikh Hasina for warm welcome