Bangladesh PM sends 2,600 kg of mangoes for PM Modi, Bengal CM
Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Sunday sent 2,600 kilograms of mangoes as a gift for her Indian counterpart Narendra Modi and West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee, according to Bangladeshi officials.
The Haribhanga variety of mangoes, which are grown in Rangpur district, were sent across the land border via Benapole check post. The mangoes are a memento of the friendship between the two countries, Anupam Chakma, deputy commissioner of the Benapole customs house, told the Bangladeshi media.
Mohammed Samiul Quader, the first secretary at Bangladesh’s deputy high commission in Kolkata, received the mangoes, which will be despatched to the prime minister in New Delhi and the chief minister.
After the completion of customs and port formalities, the Bangladeshi truck carrying 260 cartons of mangoes crossed the border on Sunday afternoon. Several senior Bangladeshi officials, including the mayor of Benapole municipality, Ashraful Alam Liton, were present at the border.
Reports in the Bangladeshi media said Hasina plans to send mangoes to the chief ministers of the northeastern states of Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Tripura, all of which share borders with Bangladesh.
Last year, Bangladesh had given its traders special permission to export nearly 1,500 tonnes of Hilsa fish, a favourite with people on both sides of the border, to India on the occasion of Durga Puja.
Mango diplomacy is part of the politics of the subcontinent but has been more common between India and Pakistan. Former dictators Zia-ul-Haq and Pervez Musharraf and former interior minister Rehman Malik are among the Pakistani leaders who sent mangoes as gifts to the Indian leadership.
The gift from Hasina comes at a time when there is growing disquiet on the Bangladeshi side over the halting of vaccine exports from India since late March. Under a commercial agreement signed with the Serum Institute of India, Bangladesh was to receive five million doses of Covishield each month during the first half of this year.
About 1.5 million Bangladeshi nationals who have received the first dose of Covishield are still waiting for the second jab, and Dhaka has been forced to turn to Russian and Chinese firms for vaccines.
Bangladesh is seen by India as a key part of the country’s “neighbourhood first” policy and in March this year, Dhaka was the destination for Modi’s first and only foreign visit since the Covid-19 outbreak.