India is yet to ratify the Land Border Agreement (LBA) with Bangladesh that involves the exchange of about 17,000 acres for about 7,000 acres of land, which would put to rest a decade-old dispute.
The UPA government was unable to muster support from the Opposition, most notably the BJP, when it tried to bring the agreement to Parliament in February this year, and it is hoped that NDA government’s control of the majority in Parliament will help push for an early ratification.
Sources say that in the run-up to External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj’s visit, Bangladeshi High Commissioner Tariq Karim also met with Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Water Resources Minister Uma Bharti to discuss the LBA and Teesta agreement respectively.
During her visit, Ms. Swaraj is expected to talk about increasing power supply on the new transmission grid from Tripura to Bangladesh, bettering trade relations, as well as focussing on border management issues. While Indian forces have claimed Bangladeshi forces aren’t doing enough to check illegal infiltration, officials in Dhaka say they are worried about the increase in civilian casualties from alleged firing by the BSF on the India-Bangladesh border.
There is still uncertainty over whether Ms. Swaraj will meet BNP leader Begum Khaleda Zia, who had abruptly cancelled her meeting with President Pranab Mukherjee when he visited Dhaka last year.
On Tuesday, the BNP criticised the deferment of a War crimes tribunal verdict, saying it had been done in order to avoid public outcry during Ms. Swaraj’s visit. “Everything in Bangladesh now is controlled from the neighbouring country, from South block,” said BNP leader Hannan Shah.
Ms. Swaraj will also deliver a lecture on ‘Bangladesh-India relations’ when she meets with think tanks, and is expected to meet officials of the Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry.
India’s bilateral trade with Bangladesh stands at $6.6 billion, a figure that could double to more than $10 billion by 2018, said industry body CII on Tuesday.