Dhaka: Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s rousing speech and the 65-point joint declaration that wrapped up his two-day trip to Bangladesh received huge splash on Monday in the Bangladesh media, which termed the Indian leader as a “visionary” and one “thinking out of the box”.
In a commentary, the largest circulation English newspaper, the Daily Star, referred to the two nations signing the Land Boundary Agreement (LBA) while the Teesta river water sharing deal remained pending.
“There is nothing on Teesta, yet we have agreed on all forms of transit in the name of connectivity. This outcome is not an evidence of the persuasive power of the Indian PM Narendra Modi but more an expression of our faith in him to deliver on all the promises that his predecessor (Manmohan Singh) so miserably failed to keep. To be fair to Mr Singh, he did most of the preparatory work.”
The commentary said the “no holds barred” welcome extended to Modi saw the government leaving no stone unturned, while “all political parties literally fell head over heels to meet Modi. The BNP and Jamaat went public to say how they were never anti-Indian in their policies.”
“The media went all out with full, uncritical and extensive coverage of the Indian prime minister’s maiden visit. In fact, this paper itself went much further than it did ever before.”
“All of this is both due to our emotional nature and an intuitive belief that PM Modi will deliver where others have failed,” the commentary said, noting the belief was based on two things – the delivery of the LBA and “more crucially and impressively,” the manner in which he was able to bring about the crucial constitutional amendment without a single vote of dissent.
Lauding Modi for his stated policy of “neighbourhood first”, the paper said: “No Indian prime minister ever said anything other than being very attentive to her neighbours.”
“But unfortunately, ‘neighbours’ usually meant Pakistan and occasionally China.”
“All this will be changed by Prime Minister Modi we hope, and we, in Bangladesh, must encourage him to do so, and do so fast… then Bangladesh will naturally emerge as India’s most important neighbour, keeping China aside for the moment. If that happens — and we don’t see why not — then the sky is the limit for our bilateral cooperation.”
It said due to the massive rise in Dhaka’s global trade in general and bilateral trade in particular, there was a need for FDI from all over the world, especially from India.
“And central to rising trade is the development of infrastructure which lies at the heart of connectivity, for which a significant number of MoUs have been signed by the two countries.”
The paper opined that connectivity without a serious policy guideline of “benefit to Bangladesh” will mainly help India supply its goods into Bangladesh and through Bangladesh to India’s northeastern states, and its bigger and stronger economy will give quicker and faster benefit to India.
“Herein lies the case for ‘positive discrimination’ and the true test of Modi’s ‘neighbourhood first’ policy. Will it be a policy to exploit the neighbourhood first or one to help them scale new heights of economic prosperity is the question. We believe that PM Modi’s position is the latter.”
“That is our expectation from the new, visionary, path breaking, ‘thinking out of the box’ Indian leader who seems to mesmerise people wherever he goes, as he did in his parting speech at the BICC. What a speech — down to earth, disarmingly simple and yet so full of charm, humour, new thoughts and, of course, new hope!”
All papers devoted a lot of space to the joint declaration and carried separate reports on every item on the itinerary of the prime minister – his meeting with Bangladesh President Abdul Hmaid, opposition leader Khaleda Zia, stalwarts from other parties, his visits to the Ramakrishna Mission and the Dhakeswari temple.
Another English daily, the New Age said: “Modi iterated the commitment that India would not take any unilateral decision on the Himalayan component of their River Interlinking Project which may affect Bangladesh.”
“He also conveyed that the Tipaimukh Hydro-Electric Power Project is not likely to be taken forward in its present form due to statutory requirements on the Indian side and that India would not take any unilateral decision on this matter that may adversely impact Bangladesh.”