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Hard lobbying on for LBA, Teesta

  • Published at 11:00 am July 28th, 2013
Hard lobbying on for LBA, Teesta

Now approaching the end of its tenure, the government is making attempts to work together with Indian political stakeholders towards the ratification of the Land Boundary Agreement (LBA) between Dhaka and New Delhi.

Bangladesh diplomats have been lobbying for support in India for the passing of the constitutional amendment bill needed to ratify the LBA by the Indian government.

Foreign Minister Dipu Moni made requests to Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid and BJP leader Arun Jaitly for the ratification of the LBA on Friday. Meanwhile Tariq A Karim, Bangladesh Ambassador to India, met top BJP leader Narendra Modi on Saturday to discuss the same issue.

Since it came to power, the Awami League-led government has taken steps to develop good relations with India.

However, in the last four years and a half of its tenure, the government has not been able to lay hold of its two coveted prizes: the Teesta water-sharing agreement and the LBA.

Dhaka and New Delhi were meant to sign the Teesta agreement during the Indian premier’s visit to Dhaka in 2011. The agreement was not signed due to opposition from the West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.

The Indian external affairs minister was also not able to place the constitutional amendment bill due to strong opposition from the Assam Janogon Party in the last budget session.

The Indian prime minister and external affairs minister assured Dipu Moni that India was committed to ratifying the LBA, but it needed internal consensus, said an official of the foreign ministry.

“The Indian government has reiterated that it is committed to resolving the issue,” said the foreign ministry source. He said Dipu Moni had also raised the issue with Jaitly, but he had not offered any assurances.

Jaitly told the foreign minister that he would discuss the issue with his party colleagues, the official said.

The Indian government reiterated its commitment to try to place the constitution amendment bill in the monsoon session beginning on August 5, he said.

Asked if Dipu Moni laid the groundwork for Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s visit to India in September, the official said: “I don’t want to make any speculation, but if the prime minister undertakes the visit, she needs the ratification of LBA or the signing of the Teesta agreement.”

India has invited Hasina to visit New Delhi in September but has not yet issued an official invitation letter.