President Ram Nath Kovind’s two-day visit to Bangladesh next month will be anything but symbolic. The second high profile visit after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s in March, kovind's trip to Dhaka is of "immense significance" as it highlights India's Neighbourhood First policy. At a time when pro-Pakistan radical Islamic groups have been trying to create discord in Bangladesh, the visit also gives a clear message that bilateral relations between the two countries continue to remain solid and that New Delhi and Dhaka are determined to continue with talks to boost connectivity.
While the President will participate in the Vijay Diwas celebration observed on December 16 marking Bangladesh’s victory over Pakistani armed forces, sources said that the visit will be used to “take forward several issues.”
“The visit is critical due to the timing and we can expect important outcomes. This will also give a boost to bilateral ties especially since PM Modi visited the country in March and further lay the roadmap for policy framing,” Bipul Chatterjee, Executive Director, CUTS International told India Narrative.
The high level delegation including several senior government officials that will accompany Kovind are expected to hold talks with Bangladesh policymakers. An insider said issues relating to connectivity, water sharing, trade and commerce will be discussed amid the changing geopolitical scenario. In return, key government departments including the Prime Minister’s Office and National Security Agency (NSA) may also be briefed about the outcome of the visit.
“We (India and Bangladesh) are in the best of times though Covid 19 has created some problems for us. In the spirit of things, the visit is important though there are areas of concerns which are related to border killings and Teesta water sharing,” Retd Air Commodore Ishfaq Ilahi Choudhury, who served the Pakistan Air Force in 1968 said.
Choudhury added that such nagging problems are having an impact on all the hard and good work that have been done.
Kovind earlier said that strong, prosperous and progressive Bangladesh is in India's fundamental national interest.
The invitation was extended to Kovind by his Bangladesh President Abdul Hamid. This will be Kovind’s first visit to the neighbouring country.
After Bangladesh gained independence, India recognised the country on December 6, 1971.
As part of an exercise to boost bilateral ties, New Delhi and Dhaka have jointly decided to organize a logo and backdrop designing competition to commemorate the “Maitri Diwas”. The purpose is to mark December 6, henceforth as ‘Maitree Diwas’ or Friendship Day, the Indian Embassy in Bangladesh said. “The logo and backdrop are to represent the spirit of the Bangladesh Liberation War, the ideology and vision of the Bangladeshi struggle, and the spirit of fraternity and solidarity extended to this struggle by the people of India,” it said.
“Bangladesh is a significant pillar of our ‘Neighbourhood First’ policy. To strengthen relations with Bangladesh has been a priority for me since the first day,” Modi told his Bangladesh counterpart Sheikh Hasina last year when the two leaders virtually held a meeting on the same day. He also said that the relation between the two countries has remained “good” notwithstanding the coronavirus pandemic.
The two neighbours are also aggressively working towards boosting connectivity, something that is expected to help in the post Covid economic recovery phase.