Indian parties have common stance on Bangladesh

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Congress President Sonia Gandhi yesterday conveyed to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina that there is a bipartisan approach in India towards consolidating relations with Bangladesh.

Sonia made the remarks when she paid a courtesy call on Hasina. She was accompanied by former prime minister Manmohan Singh and Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi.

“We may have political differences among us but when it comes to consolidating ties with Bangladesh, we set aside differences and adopt a common stand,” Sonia told Hasina, according to a senior Congress leader who was privy to the meeting held at the Rashtrapati Bhavan.

It is in the spirit of bipartisan approach that Indian parliament passed bills to ratify the land boundary agreement between the two countries. The bills were passed when BJP-led coalition was in power even though the initiative had begun during the Congress-led government, led by Manmohan Singh, Sonia said.

It is the same bipartisan spirit that unites the two countries in the fight against terrorism, Sonia said.

Hasina told Sonia of the steps taken by her government to combat terrorism and radicalisation of youths.

Hasina apprised Sonia of steps taken by Bangladesh government for the country’s socioeconomic development and the Congress chief commended Bangladesh’s successes.

Hasina in the evening called on Indian President Pranab Mukherjee at the Rashtrapati Bhavan and discussed matters relating to bilateral interests, including the decisions agreed on by the two countries at Saturday’s talks between her and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Bangladesh and India signed 22 MoUs and agreements and expanded their cooperation in defence and civil nuclear sectors.

Pranab commended Hasina’s sustained efforts to take India-Bangladesh relations to new heights through various decisions.

Pranab and Hasina, who share close family ties since long, recalled their days in New Delhi when Hasina was in exile after the assassination of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman on August 15, 1975.

The Indian president said he was moved by Hasina visiting New Delhi and sharing his grief following the death of his wife Suvra who hailed from Narail district of Bangladesh.

Pranab hosted a dinner for Hasina last night.

Hasina is to wrap up her India visit today by addressing an Indian think-tank at Hotel Imperial and honchos of Indian industries and businesses at Hotel Taj Palace this morning.

Her meeting with business and industry leaders assume significance as 12 MoUs are set to be signed between Bangladeshi and Indian companies to generate an investment of $9 billion dollars in Bangladesh. Some of these companies are state-owned.

Hasina is expected to pitch for greater Indian investment in Bangladesh which Indian officials feel will go a long way in addressing Dhaka’s concerns over huge deficit in bilateral trade.

The two-way trade is about $6.5 billion, of which India’s exports to Bangladesh stands around $5 billion.

Indian Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar said unlike the past, Indian investors are now showing more enthusiasm for and confidence in Bangladesh economy.

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