Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), main opposition party, has expressed the hope that the visit of its leader Khaleda Zia to India would play a “very significant role” in building a strong relationship. This was conveyed by party vice-chairman Shamser Mobin Chowdhury after Ms. Zia met Indian High Commissioner Pankaj Saran on Tuesday night.
Ms. Zia, twice the Prime Minister and now the Leader of the Opposition, will leave for India on October 28 on a week-long tour, at the invitation of the Indian government. She will meet, among others, President Pranab Mukherjee, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and leaders of the opposition.
Mr. Chowdhury added that a broad range of bilateral relations including water sharing of rivers including Teesta, border killings, trade deficit and Tipaimukh dam would be discussed.
Mr. Saran paid a courtesy call on the Leader of the Opposition ahead of her India. The meeting reportedly lasted for 45 minutes.
“Our relations with India are important, and there are some unresolved issues between the two countries, which will be discussed,” Mr. Chowdhury told reporters. The BNP chairperson, who has just concluded a visit to China at the invitation of the Communist Party of China (CPC), is expected to lead a nine-member delegation. Ms. Zia has been quite critical about the renewed relationship with India under Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s government. She will also visit Sufi saint Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti’s shrine at Ajmer.
While one section of political observers see this as an opportunity for a breakthrough — considering Ms. Zia’s traditional anti-Indian posture — others are sceptical.
However, coming as it does before 2014 Bangladesh general elections, it would be of interest to them.H M Ershad, who leads Bangladesh’s third biggest political party, Jatiya Party (JP), had paid a similar visit to India recently at the invitation of New Delhi.