Bangladesh, along with India, had identified 15 projects to promote connectivity among South Asian neighbours
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to use the smattering of Bengali he had picked up during his long years as a social and political worker to enamour his Bangladeshi hosts during his 36-hour visit to Dhaka on June 6 and 7.
But the visit, his first to Bangladesh, would go beyond mere optics.
The two governments are slated to ink a slew of agreements.
New Delhi might also agree to Dhaka’s request for a line of credit of $1.5 billion to $2 billion for projects to improve regional connectivity.
Bangladesh, along with India, had identified 15 projects to promote connectivity among South Asian neighbours.
The PM has been keen to advance the cause of BBIN (Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal) connectivity.
India had given a $1-billion line of credit for infrastructure projects to Dhaka in 2010.
Modi and Bangladesh PM Sheikh Hasina would also flag off the Kolkata-Dhaka-Agartala bus service, announce the Dhaka-Guwahati bus service and explore starting bus services from the Bangladeshi cities of Khulna, Chittagong and Jessore to Kolkata.
Modi might even announce a quasi visa-on-arrival for Bangladeshi tourists coming by air.
The visit, however, might not see the signing of the Teesta water-sharing agreement, primarily because of domestic political compulsions related to the Bengal Assembly elections in mid-2016.
The treaty couldn’t be inked during then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s Dhaka visit in September 2011, after Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee opposed it.
Banerjee had dropped out of that visit barely a day before Singh was to land in Dhaka. She has not confirmed if she would accompany Modi.
A couple of chief ministers from the Northeast might.
The two nations might agree to sign the water pact later.
The foundation of the visit was laid as soon as Modi shepherded the ratification of the 41-year-old India-Bangladesh Land Boundary Agreement.
The PM had personally spoken to each and every party leader in both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha for support for the Bill.
The PM had walked up to Congress President Sonia Gandhi in the Lok Sabha to thank her after the House ratified the Bill on May 7.
When the Rajya Sabha passed the Bill in the first week of May, Bangladeshi PM Sheikh Hasina phoned to thank Modi.
A couple of days later, New Delhi took up Dhaka’s earlier invite to the PM to visit Bangladesh and the visit was finalised.
Another highlight of the visit is expected to be the PM receiving an award on behalf of former PM Atal Behari Vajpayee, conferred on the leader for his contribution to the Bangladesh Liberation War.
He is also scheduled to visit the 12th Century Dhakeshwari Temple and deliver a public address on India-Bangladesh relations at the Bangabandhu Convention Centre on June 7.
Sources said the PM might charm his way to Bangladeshi hearts by reciting Rabindranath Tagore and speaking in Bengali in his public address.
“Ami tomay bhalobashi” (I love you) was how Modi had launched his Lok Sabha campaign in West Bengal at a rally in Kolkata’s Parade Ground on February 5, 2014.
“By the end of the campaign, Modi had addressed eight rallies in the state, frequently recited poems of Tagore and used his meagre Bengali to good effect to help his party notch up an unprecedented vote share in the state.
Image: Prime Minister Modi meets Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at the United Nations. Photograph: Paresh Gandhi/Rediff.com