Modi to take ‘gifts’ for B'desh, slew of pacts likely during his visit

  • Pramit Pal Chaudhuri, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: May 31, 2015 01:11 IST

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will go to Bangladesh bearing gifts. India will present a generous package to Bangladeshi Prime Minister SheikhHasina Wajed next week to show to the others that ‘it pays to be India’s friend’.

Modi will be making his first state visit to Bangladesh from June 5-7, deliberately putting it on par with his visit to Nepal.Besides the
historic Land Border Agreement and a line of credit of a reported $2 billion, Modi will be signing a number of other economic agreements.

Sheikh Hasina has already announced plans to make it easier for India firms to operate in Bangladesh and the two countries have just announced a coastal shipping agreement. However, the hoped the Teesta water agreement will not be a part of this visit, though it would figure in bilateral discussions.

Hasina’s government, under fire from the West and human rights groups for her use of government machinery against the opposition
Bangladesh National Party (BNP), can count on a warm embrace from New Delhi. Indian officials, in any case, have told Western diplomats that New Delhi’s influence on Dhaka’s internal politics is ‘exaggerated’.

The Indian establishment believes it owes Hasina a considerable debt. Her unstinting cooperation on the security front for the past three years has brought Northeast insurgence to a historic low and ensured Pakistani-backed Islamist terrorists no longer find a haven in Bangladesh.

Modi, in an interview, had said of the land agreement, “Had this been elsewhere in the world this would have been cited as an example as big as the fall of the Berlin Wall. The entire mood of our neighbourhood has changed dramatically because of our message of shared prosperity being implemented on the ground.”

While the PM will meet BNP leader Khaleda Zia, the party’s continued relationship with the terrorism-linked Jamaat e Islami remains a matter of concern.

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