Sheikh Hasina to focus on economic agenda during India visit

No problems in New Delhi-Dhaka ties, says the visiting Bangladesh Prime Minister.

Updated - October 04, 2019 08:33 am IST

Published - October 03, 2019 11:27 pm IST - New Delhi

Bangladesh PM Sheikh Hasina arriving at New Delhi on Thursday.

Bangladesh PM Sheikh Hasina arriving at New Delhi on Thursday.

Bangladesh will try to highlight economic opportunities in relation with India, visiting Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said here on Thursday. The comments showed Dhaka’s desire to foreground the economic agenda which has been overshadowed by the fallout of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam and Home Minister Amit Shah’s description of Bangladesh citizens as “infiltrators”.

“There are no problems in bilateral ties. I have come here to discuss economic issues,” said Ms. Hasina in response to a question from The Hindu during a public reception held at the Bangladesh High Commission.

Ms. Hasina addressed the World Economic Forum (WEF) soon after arriving here on Thursday and presented Bangladesh as a fast-growing economy and an attractive investment destination in South Asia.

“It is time for global investors, particularly Indian entrepreneurs, to invest in Bangladesh in areas like education, light engineering, electronics, automotive industry, artificial intelligence — beyond the conventional menu,” said the visiting leader in her speech at the WEF.

Ms. Hasina is scheduled to hold official talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday, and several agreements are expected to be signed. According to sources, both sides are in talks for agreements for a Special Economic Zone and a skill development centre. Talks are also to take up Ganga barrage which has been stuck because of mutual differences. It is expected that issues like NRC are also likely to come up during the discussions.

A high level Bangladesh source pointed out that Dhaka recognises there is considerable divergence between the assurances given by External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar on the National Register of Citizens and the statements regarding the same by Home Minister Amit Shah. The NRC exercise in Assam left out 1.9 million people out of the list of citizens and subsequently Mr Jaishankar said that the future of these NRC-excluded is an internal matter of India. However Home Minister Amit Shah has repeatedly asserted that the NRC-excluded people will not find space in India.

“We understand that the diplomatic comments on the issue are made keeping in mind Prime Minister Modi’s growing global stature. And we are aware of the greater political clout of the Indian Home Minister who caters to the domestic audience driven by the ideology of Hindutva,” said the source.

He said that the NRC would have remained an internal issue of India if it was contained after the Assam chapter and warned of its negative fallout for South Asian region. “It will be difficult for India to reverse the dynamics of NRC if it is implemented as part of the Hindutva agenda,” said the senior official expressing Dhaka’s concern about NRC.

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