Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury
Bangladesh needs not to get worried about India’s commitment to resolving the pending issues of land boundary agreement and sharing of Teesta river water, Jatiya Sangsad Speaker Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury said in New Delhi today.
Wrapping her four-day official visit to the Indian capital where she held talks with the top Indian leadership, Chaudhury told representatives of Bangladesh newspapers that “I am going back with the view that there is no dearth of commitment on the part of India to implement the LBA and sharing of Teesta waters”.
“India is committed to both LBA and Teesta water-sharing and it is just a question of time for these to happen,” and Indian government is working on forging a domestic consensus on the two issues, said the Speaker who had held talks with Indian President Pranab Mukherjee, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and leader of the opposition Arun Jaitley of BJP.
Chaudhury said that during her meeting with Jaitley, whose party has opposed the constitution amendment bill relating to operationalisation of LBA, acknowledged there is a need to settle the land boundary issue with Bangladesh and said “it can be managed”.
The Assam state BJP unit has come out against LBA arguing the state will be losing more land to Bangladesh than gaining.
Responding to a question about democracy and elections in Bangladesh, the Speaker claimed the democratic traditions in Bangladesh is very much on track since 1991 and it should not be judged by one party’s boycotting the January 5 parliamentary polls.
“Democracy in Bangladesh will be more inclusive and more participatory but we have to work for it,” Chaudhury said.
Asked specifically about the prospects of democracy in Bangladesh in the wake of BNP’s boycotting the elections, she said, “I don’t think one party will stay away from elections for long because in the long run it will harm them.” In this context, she cited that BNP is taking part in upazila parishad elections.
Asked about the possibility of engaging BNP in dialogue over returning to the democratic mainstream through participation in parliamentary polls, Chaudhury said, “We never rule out the possibility of dialogue, which is a continuous process in a democracy.”
If an initiative is needed to end the current impasse, it is for the political parties of Bangladesh to take that initiative.
She, however, said if there is a dialogue between the parties on democracy and elections, such an exercise should not be limited to just the subject of caretaker government and should cover a broad spectrum of issues like credible elections and how to ensure broader democracy and enacting laws to strengthen democratic institutions.
The question of democratic process and elections should be settled by the political parties of Bangladesh once and for all, she said in reply to a question about frequent election boycott witnessed in Bangladesh.