New York, 29 Sep (PTI): Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina asked the opponents of the Land Boundary Agreement in India to give up their opposition to the historic measure, saying settling the vexed issue would be a “win-win” situation for both the countries.
The issue of the agreement, which is stuck because of stiff opposition by some Indian political parties, was discussed when she met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
When asked about the issue, Hasina told PTI, “People of India and all the political parties should take some positive steps, what we expect from them.”
The Indian government has mooted a bill to ratify the agreement under which the two countries will exchange territories but the proposed legislation could not be passed during the last session of Parliament as some political parties strongly opposed it. “They (political parties of India) should solve (the issue). That will bring the two countries closer. Because we know there is nothing to lose, nothing to gain. It is a win-win situation. So the opposition should understand and play their due role,” the Bangladesh Prime Minister said. At the same time, she expressed confidence that the issue would be resolved.
Asked whether she had got such an assurance from Singh and the Indian government, Hasina said, “Not only from the government but opposition and others also, that they will consider it.”
The agreement is aimed at settling the issue of enclaves and adverse possession along the 4,069-km border between India and Bangladesh and is seen as an important confidence building measure between the two neighbours. The agreement provides for exchange of about 160 enclaves between the two countries.
Trinamool Congress party has said it will not allow territories of West Bengal to be transferred to Bangladesh. The government subsequently reached out to the party which set up a four-member committee to discuss the matter. While seeking the support of Trinamool, which is ruling West Bengal, the government enlisted how the agreement would be beneficial for India. It also highlighted a number of steps taken by the Sheikh Hasina government that have benefited India. .
“We are neighbouring countries. We always value our friendship and cooperation,” the Bangladesh Prime Minister said.
Indian government sources have said it will make a fresh attempt to get the bill passed on the first day of the Winter session of Parliament expected in November. “We came close to getting it passed in the last (Monsoon) session but could not. We hope to do it on the first day of the next session,” a highly-placed source said last week.
Hasina said India and Bangladesh are cooperating in a number of areas. She particularly referred to a proposal under which India will sell 500 MW of power to Bangladesh. The project is expected to be launched next week. “We are going to purchase power from India. It is a good start,” she said.
India recently gave Bangladesh USD 800 million as line of credit and USD 200 million in grants, first of its kind to any country. The two-way trade between the countries has increased in recent years, mainly because of zero duty access provided to many Bangladeshi products in the Indian market.