• Saturday, December 20, 2014

Freedom in the air

With neighbours, more assertive?

Congress to leave 'cooperative' foreign policy note for Modi

Our Correspondent, New Delhi

The election manifesto of the Bharatiya Janata Party has given enough indications that its foreign policy is likely to be more assertive than its predecessor Congress-led UPA in dealing with India's immediate neighbours.
With the BJP having achieved a commanding electoral mandate, prime minister-elect Narendra Modi and his party are set to be free from pulls and pressures usually exerted by regional parties in framing the government's foreign policy.
Sources here have expressed satisfaction over Hasina's “warm” letter quickly reaching out to the new BJP-led government, in which she spoke about working closely with Modi to take the relations between Bangladesh and India to a greater height.  
Tarun Vijay, a member of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), who is associated with the BJP's foreign policy think-tank, went on record at a seminar two months ago that the BJP would have no problem in signing the Teesta water sharing deal with Bangladesh, which had been opposed by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.   
He, however, acknowledged BJP's reservations about the land-boundary agreement with Bangladesh but made it clear that the concerns could be addressed.
The outgoing Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government will leave behind a “note” on the foreign policy issues for the incoming BJP-led government with a suggestion to maintain the tempo of improving relations with Bangladesh, Pakistan and   China.
The note will be forwarded by National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon who had a series of interactions with leaders of Bangladesh over its political spectrum in the last few years. Menon had talks with Mamata on the Teesta issue as well.
The note is expected to point out that India's security and connectivity concerns should be uppermost in the minds of the new government in New Delhi in shaping its engagement with the Sheikh Hasina-led administration.
While it is not mandatory for the new Indian government to accept the previous government's view on the foreign policy, sources said, the “note” might provide inputs to its agenda on dealing with the neighbouring countries.      
They added that they felt Narendra Modi's tirade during the campaign against illegal migrants from Bangladesh might have been more of electoral rhetoric than a considered policy towards the India's south-eastern neighbour.
While outgoing Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had dithered about signing the Teesta deal because he did not want to provoke Mamata and withdrawal of support by her party's crucial 19 lawmakers to his coalition government, the BJP-led government will not face any such coalition compulsions.
Mamata-led Trinamool Congress was at that time a constituent of the UPA but it is not part of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance government.
Pushing the constitutional amendment bills in both Houses of new parliament should not be difficult for the NDA given its comfortable majority in Lok Sabha. 

 

Published: 12:01 am Sunday, May 18, 2014

Last modified: 10:11 pm Sunday, May 18, 2014

TAGS: Bharatiya Janata Party election manifesto Congress-led UPA BJP-led government

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