Will Parliament oblige a country that was ranked as the most trusted by Indians in the CNN-IBN-The Hindu Election Tracker survey?
Bangladesh Foreign Minister Dipu Moni, whose country won that accolade, arrived in New Delhi on Thursday for meetings with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Bharatiya Janata Party leader Arun Jaitley for clarity on whether Parliament will be able to pass a Constitutional Amendment Bill in its session beginning Monday.
The Bill, if passed, will put the final seal of approval on the settlement negotiated by the two countries during the tenure of the Awami League led by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. The introduction of the Bill, which requires two-thirds of members present to vote in favour, therefore needs bipartisan support. It was stalled in the Rajya Saha during the last session following Opposition protests.
At a public engagement here, Dr. Moni expressed Bangladesh’s desire to settle the outstanding land boundary issues with India and said it would be an election issue in her country along with the Teesta Treaty, which could not be signed due to opposition from West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. In the past, differences over the outstanding issues led to armed skirmishes, killings and undocumented immigration, causing bad blood between the two countries. “People when they vote will take into account. It will happen,” she said about the two issues.
A senior External Affairs Ministry official felt that Bangladeshi politicians and media were “understanding” of India’s failure to honour its commitments, partly because of the progress made in other spheres of bilateral relations.
Regional River Basin
Speaking at the Fourth R.K. Mishra Memorial Lecture organised by the Observer Research Foundation, Dr. Moni called for a common Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna Basin Regime among Bangladesh, India and other neighbours. As first reported by The Hindu, Bangladesh had first proposed the idea early last year. India was initially lukewarm to the proposal and has since warmed up to the idea. The basin regime would include all countries such as Bhutan, Nepal, Myanmar and China — from the upper reaches to the Bay of Bengal.
A “Basin regime,” she suggested, would enable a holistic approach rather than a case-by-case approach to cross-border rivers. The concept could also include joint undertakings in the sea-regime including the sea bed. But the Basin regime concept does not preclude bilateral arrangements with India nor does it undermine the global order.