Modi’s Hindutva agenda is unsettling Bangladesh, time Delhi reaches out to reassure Hasina

File image of PM Narendra Modi with Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina | Photo: @narendramodi | Twitter


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The ground-breaking 5 August ceremony to build a ‘gaganchumbi’, literally ‘sky-kissing’, temple to Lord Rama in Ayodhya has sparked off some unease in neighbouring Bangladesh. The event will be attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and several senior BJP leaders.

This will come less than two weeks after Bangladesh allowed Indian goods, meant for the northeast region, to dock at the Chittagong port on the Bay of Bengal for the first time since 1971. The cargo was later received by Tripura Chief Minister Biplab Deb at the Akhaura integrated check post, barely 200 km from the Bangladesh border.

The docking of an Indian ship at Chittagong port is an amazing breakthrough in the on-off bilateral relationship between India and Bangladesh. It is certainly a major step in the economic reconnection of the subcontinent. The fractures caused by the partition of India in 1947 may not have healed, but enhanced stakes through trade and commerce are certainly expected to help.

So, if India and Bangladesh are reaffirming their relationship on the all-important economic front, why the unease in Dhaka? What is keeping Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina from expressing fulsome joy about the fact that her country and India are even more closely tied together?


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The need to be vocal

Perhaps a more substantive query would be to look at why PM Modi has kept quiet about the Chittagong port breakthrough. There has been no mention of it even in his Sunday ‘Mann Ki Baat,’ which is interesting, because it’s very unlike Modi to not take credit for something that is legitimately due to him.

Of course, External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar and Railways Minister Piyush Goyal virtually flagged off 10 broad gauge diesel locomotives on Monday for Bangladesh. Earlier, Jaishankar wrote to his Bangladeshi counterpart A.K. Abdul Momen emphasising the special nature of India-Bangladesh ties and promising a special push towards reactivating trade links.

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