New Delhi, India (BBN)-India is confident of working out a Teesta water sharing agreement with Bangladesh before Prime Minister Narendra Modi visits Dhaka on June 5.
After West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee greenlighted the Teesta deal, it was only a matter of time. Bengal will benefit with substantial financial assistance for irrigation projects in North Bengal, reports The Times of India.
Of greater significance, India is looking at signing a civil nuclear agreement with Bangladesh on the same lines as the one signed with Sri Lanka a few months ago.
Russia has already signed a nuclear deal with Bangladesh for research purposes.
India has in the past trained Bangladesh scientists in peaceful nuclear uses and Dhaka recently requested for more such training.
As India looks for a big bang engagement of Dhaka, a civil nuclear agreement would build on research, training and medical applications of nuclear material etc.
Addressing an India-Bangladesh dialogue on Saturday, national security adviser Ajit Doval indicated that Bangladesh had requested for assistance in the nuclear power sector.
India is also looking at enhancing connectivity with Bangladesh.
The PM’s visit should throw up more in terms of road links, while India is likely to advance another big line of credit to Bangladesh.
The profile of the visit will trump the Nepal visit, and the messaging will be clear – Bangladesh has moved to the top of the charts as far as India is concerned.
Sheikh Hasina has been a steady partner for India in the past few years and in many ways, India owes her.
The unanimous vote on the LBA (Land Boundary Agreement) is also a sign that the Bangladesh relationship has support from across the political spectrum.
The government is debating whether to have PM drive across the border rather than fly.
Mamata Banerjee is expected to be among the CMs to accompany Modi. In 2011, Mamata killed Manmohan Singh’s maiden Dhaka visit by refusing to give consent to the Teesta deal at the last moment.
This time, Mamata travelled to Dhaka in February and it was there that she informed Sheikh Hasina that she would allow both the LBA and Teesta deal to go through.
The central government took a leaf out of the Gujral government by giving pole position to West Bengal government.
On his first visit to Kolkata in early May, Modi stated Bengal would be the lynch pin for India’s “Act East” policy.
On Saturday, foreign secretary S Jaishankar tried to manage expectations on the Bangladesh visit.
“It’s a relationship with enormous possibilities. Hopefully, we will see that grow. Teesta is an issue under discussion. In such cases, it’s prudent to wait for the results,” Jaishankar said.