Dipu Moni returns empty-handed
Foreign Minister Dipu Moni yesterday returned home empty-handed after a three-day visit to New Delhi, according to the Indian media and diplomatic circle in Bangladesh.
India had made no commitment over the land boundary agreement and the Teesta water-sharing deal that had been the reasons behind her visit.
Influential Indian Bangla daily Anandabazar Patrika in its yesterday's issue published a report headlined “Dipu returning home empty-handed”.
“If the deals aren't signed, it'll surely be frustrating,” Dipu Moni was quoted to have said.
She, however, told the newspaper that the people of Bangladesh would understand and that they had seen no such initiatives by the previous governments to settle the matters.
“These are not today's issues. These have been pending for decades.”
The visit, according to diplomatic circle in Dhaka, was a futile attempt by her as she had already known that India would not be able to make any commitment regarding the two vital deals.
The present Indian government cannot pass the bill on the land boundary agreement as the ruling Congress lacks two-third majority in parliament and the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) rejects it, saying if the deal was ratified India would cede too much of its territory to the neighbouring country, diplomatic sources said.
Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh this time neither gave hints as to when the Teesta deal would be signed nor did he talk about any possibility of ratification of the land boundary agreement in Lok Shabha and Rajya Sabha.
Since the ratification was dependent on support from the opposition, Dipu Moni met Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha and senior BJP leader, Arun Jaitley.
Jaitley made no promises.
The land boundary agreement comprises an exchange of 162 enclaves, demarcation of 6.5 km undemarcated international boundary and an exchange of nearly 6,000 acres of adversely possessed lands.
The additional protocol for the 1974 boundary agreement was signed on September 6, 2011, during the Indian PM's visit to Dhaka.
Sources in New Delhi hinted that the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government had planned to place the ratification bill in the upcoming monsoon session of parliament scheduled to begin on August 5.
The Indian government is concerned that if the agreement is not cleared in parliament in this session, India's chances of settling the long-pending boundary issue will be scuttled as Bangladesh will soon go to polls.
"If this bill does not go through and the Teesta water sharing deal is not signed, they will surely become important issues in the run-up to the parliamentary elections in my country," Dipu Moni said at a press conference in Delhi after talks with Singh and Jaitely.
These issues will also have an impact on the outcome of the upcoming polls in Bangladesh, she said at the meetings with the Indian leaders.
"I am sure all parties in India will see the merit in solving the outstanding boundary issues which have lingered long enough.
“People will take it into account when they will vote,” she told Indian journalists.
Diplomatic sources in Bangladesh say India has received unprecedented cooperation from the Sheikh Hasina-led government in the last four and a half years but in return Bangladesh has not got its expected breakthrough in these two issues.
And that will ultimately cause the Awami League-led grand alliance to suffer in the next general elections.
LEFT OF INDIA SUPPORTS LBA
According to a report published in the Times of India on July 26, the Left Front announced its support for the land boundary agreement.
"We will support Constitution Amendment Bill for the land boundary agreement... Unfortunately, some parties are opposing it," it quoted Communist Party of India (Marxist) General Secretary Prakash Karat as saying.
Though the Teesta issue had not been fully negotiated yet, his party would like an agreement on the matter as well, he added.
The New Indian Express also published a similar report in its yesterday's issue.