The Telegraph
Saturday , June 21 , 2014
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Dhaka push for water and land deals

New Delhi, June 20: Bangladesh high commissioner Tariq Karim met India’s ministers in charge of water resources and territorial security this week to push two key pacts New Delhi has failed to deliver on, ahead of foreign minister Sushma Swaraj’s visit to Dhaka next week.

Karim met water resources minister Uma Bharati on Thursday and home minister Rajnath Singh on Tuesday for talks that officials said focused on the agreements, on which the BJP kept shifting its position while in Opposition, senior officials told The Telegraph.

Sushma is travelling to Dhaka on June 25 for a two-day trip — her first abroad after taking over as foreign minister — that is part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s new foreign policy drive to restore India’s primacy in the region.

Then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina had in September 2011 inked the Land Boundary Agreement to allow the nations to swap swathes of land they each claim, but that are landlocked within the territory of the other.

Singh, on that same trip to Dhaka, was keen to finalise the Teesta river water sharing agreement with Bangladesh — the two nations had agreed on its parameters.

But political opposition from Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee held the UPA government back from implementing the Teesta accord.

And opposition in Parliament from the BJP, AGP and Mamata’s Trinamul Congress meant the land swap pact — which requires a constitutional amendment since it would redefine India’s borders — has not been ratified.

Officials said both Rajnath and Uma Bharati assured Karim they would try to expedite the implementation of these agreements, but made no firm commitments outlining any timeline.