Experts on foreign relations believe that there would be hardly any major change in India’s relations with Bangladesh as the Bharatiya Janata Party is set to form the government for the second consecutive term under the leadership of Narendra Modi.
India would also take steps this time to augment influence across South Asia for containing Chinese persuasion in the region under Belt and Road Initiative, they told New Age on Thursday.
‘Modi is unlikely to bring in divergence in India’s relations with Bangladesh as there has been a convergence for several years,’ Bangladesh Enterprise Institute acting president Humayun Kabir said.
Modi is likely to try to sign a deal on sharing of water of the Teesta River after the 2021 provincial elections in West Bengal in spite of his adversary with West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee, he said. Mamata continued opposing the signing the agreement on sharing the flows of the Teesta.
On potential changes in India’s South Asia policy, he said that the new government might launch a soft competition with China taking a move to improve relations with Pakistan alongside steps to contain Chinese influence in South Asia.
The BJP-led government, in its second consecutive term, ‘is likely to go for a two-track diplomacy’ in dealing with things involving Indo-Pacific Strategy of the United States keeping in considerations the Belt and Road Initiative of China, added Humayun Kabir, also a former ambassador and foreign secretary.
Bangladesh Institute of International and Strategic Studies chairman Munshi Faiz Ahmad expects no major change in India’s South Asia and Bangladesh policies as BJP and its leadership would continue for the second consecutive term.
‘Things will depend rather on the Bangladesh government how it would exploit this situation in exploring opportunity for business,’ he said.
Dhaka University international relations professor Delwar Hossain thinks that the new Indian government ‘may take a proactive role in signing the Teesta deal.’
The BJP-led government ‘is unlikely to play irregular Bengali card with Bangladesh as the two countries are undergoing a sort of dynamism in their relationship,’ he said.
‘Irregular Bengali in states bordering with Bangladesh was an election-trick for BJP and it worked in the election in West Bengal, but BJP would not go much with this with Bangladesh,’ he said.
Keeping in mind Chinese Belt and Road Initiative, Delwar said, ‘Modi may take decisive role in increasing Indian influence across South Asia although the country is not, right now, in a position to attain full control due to increasing Chinese presence through massive investment in the region.’
Modi is likely to take initiative for a breakthrough in relations with Pakistan as a part of India’s China containment policy, he added.
In an unflinching delivery in presence of Bangladesh prime minister Sheikh Hasina after their latest official bilateral talks in New Delhi in April 2017, Modi said that the two governments would sign a deal on Teesta by their ‘present’ tenures.
Successive Indian prime ministers Manmohan Singh and Narendra Modi continued to promise to conclude agreements on sharing of waters of seven transboundary rivers, Teesta in particular, in spite of requests of Bangladesh prime minister Sheikh Hasina on almost every occasions they met.
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