Bangladesh rolls out Red Carpet for Modi

Dhaka: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he would go to Bangladesh with “a great sense of enthusiasm and delight” for a visit that will see the signing of a host of agreements and the announcement of grant-in-aid projects.

In a Facebook post on Thursday night, Modi said: “On 6th June I will begin my 2-day visit to Bangladesh. It is with a great sense of enthusiasm and delight that I visit a nation with which India’s ties have been very strong.”

In Bangladesh, he would attend several programmes, which include meeting with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina “who has played an important role in strong India-Bangladesh ties,” he said, adding that there will be delegation-level talks and signing of agreements as well.

“I will join the programme to unveil the plaques for various Grant-in-Aid projects. At the Prime Minister’s Office, plaques of railway, cultural and road projects will be unveiled. Similarly, plaques for various development projects will be unveiled at the New Chancery,” Modi said.

The Indian Prime Minister said he would pay tributes to martyrs of the 1971 Liberation War at the National Mausoleum and he was eager to visit Bangabandhu Memorial Museum and “pay tributes to the father of the nation Sheikh Mujibur Rahman” whom he described as “a friend of India and a pillar of strength and democracy in the South Asian region”.

“It will be my privilege to receive the Award of Liberation War Honour on behalf of Atalji (former Indian PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee). Atalji, as Foreign Minister and as PM, placed great emphasis on strong ties with Bangladesh and had visited Bangladesh in 1999,” he went on.

Terming the ratification of the Land Boundary Agreement (LBA) as a “watershed moment in our ties with Bangladesh,” Modi said: “I must highlight the support of political parties as well as Chief Ministers of various states that led to the smooth passage of this amendment bill.”

“A few weeks ago, the Indian Parliament unanimously approved a Constitution amendment bill to give full effect to our Land Boundary Agreement of 1974 with Bangladesh and the related 2011 Protocol.

“I will be visiting the Ramakrishna Mission in Dhaka. It was founded by devotees of the Belur Math in 1899. I will also visit the famous Dhakeshwari Temple.

“I am certain my visit will be beneficial for the people of both our nations and in the larger good of the South Asian neighbourhood,” Modi wrote.

Meanwhile, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee arrived on Friday.

“She landed at 8:30 pm on Friday from Kolkata and will return the next evening (Saturday) after witnessing some official engagements between Modi and Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina,” said a senior foreign ministry official.

State Minister for Foreign Affairs Md Shahriar Alam received Mamata at the VIP Terminal of Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport in Dhaka.

Indian Modi is scheduled to arrive in Dhaka at 10:15 am on Saturday for his 34-hour visit and Hasina will receive him at the airport.

Mamata and Modi are not only travelling separately but also will be staying in separate hotels and return on separate dates.

While Pan Pacific Sonargaon Hotel has been booked for Modi’s entourage whereas, Mamata will stay at Radisson Hotel, according to a foreign ministry official.

She is the only Indian chief minister visiting Dhaka during Modi’s visit. The chief ministers of Assam, Meghalaya and Tripura are not coming, although they played crucial roles in the LBA ratification.

Diplomatic sources said Mamata’s decision not to accompany Modi clearly shows that she is still not ready to sign the Teesta Water Sharing Agreement with Bangladesh.

A couple of days ago, Mamata said the Teesta issue was not on her agenda.

Mamata had earlier backtracked at the eleventh hour and pulled out from the delegation of former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during his Dhaka visit in September 2011, raising objection to the Teesta deal.

Political analysts think domestic conflicts in Indian politics have surfaced outside the country. Mamata in fact wants to convey the message that she is a leader of her own, they believe.

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