Bangladesh PM Sheikh Hasina invited for the swearing-in ceremony of Narendra Modi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with his Bangladesh counterpart Sheikh Hasina at Hyderabad House in New Delhi. Fil photo
| Photo Credit: The Hindu

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina of Bangladesh has accepted an invitation to visit India to participate in the swearing-in ceremony of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the state-owned news agency of Bangladesh has announcedThe Hindu had earlier reported that PM Hasina congratulated Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the performance of the NDA at the 18th Lok Sabha elections.

“On behalf of the people of Bangladesh and on my own behalf, I wish to extend my heartiest congratulations to you on the resounding victory of National Democratic Alliance (NDA) led by the Bharatiya Janata Party in the 18th Lok Sabha elections. You carry the hopes and aspirations of the people of India,” said Prime Minister Hasina during a telephonic conversation with Prime Minister Modi.  

Sources in Bangladesh have informed The Hindu that the two sides have agreed on June 21 or 22 as the date of the meeting but maintained that the visit could alternately also take place in the last week of the month as June 21 is too close to the Eid holidays in the Muslim-majority nation.

The visit by Ms. Hasina is expected to be rich in symbolism as the two sides wish to utilise the interaction between the two leaders in New Delhi as an occasion to assert the positive nature of the bilateral relation especially as Ms. Hasina is expected to travel to China in July.

Sources also said that the Government of Bangladesh, which will present the annual budget on Thursday, is dealing with high inflation and Ms. Hasina will use her India visit to ensure uninterrupted cross border flow of commodities. Driven by food prices, Bangladesh’s May inflation rate has touched 9.89% sparking widespread concern about the health of the Bangladesh economy.

Any disruption in some of the essential items like rice and onion, which are imported by Bangladesh from India, could worsen the inflation in the neighbouring country, the sources further said. Trade and concerns about export of commodities from India are some of the issues that are expected to be on top of the agenda in the bilateral meeting, it has been learnt.

PM Hasina’s visit will draw attention also because of the fact that West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who is often viewed in Dhaka as a hurdle to Bangladesh’s aspiration to acquire greater share of the Teesta river waters, has done well in the general election with her party Trinamool Congress winning 29 seats. Ms. Banerjee has heightened her criticism of Mr. Modi after the election results and has joined the Opposition alliance further reducing chances of any possible reconciliation between Delhi and Kolkata on the sharing of the river water in the short run.

In the backdrop of the stalled bilateral dialogue over the Teesta, India’s concerns had increased as China was eyeing Dhaka’s Teesta River Comprehensive Management and Restoration Project. Indian sources had hinted that the matter had come up during Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra’s Dhaka visit in May. After Mr. Kwatra met with PM Hasina during the visit, Foreign Minister of Bangladesh Hasan Mahmood had said: “You know we have taken on a big project on the Teesta. India wants to finance that. We said the project will have to be in accordance with our needs, it must fulfil our needs.”

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