It was not clear even on Monday, whether Indian prime minister Narendra Modi will meet Bangladesh prime minister Sheikh Hasina on the sidelines of the BRICS summit in Johannesburg, South Africa.
India’s foreign secretary Vinay Mohan Kwatra, in response to questions on Monday, only said that many state leaders are coming to Johannesburg. The schedule of their meeting with the prime minister has not been finalised yet. So, nothing can be said in advance.
Not only Sheikh Hasina, speculations are rife about Modi’s meeting with Chinese president Xi Jinping. The foreign secretary did not talk about that either. Prime minister Modi will leave for Johannesburg on Tuesday morning. He will visit Greece after the BRICS summit.
The G-20 summit will be held in Delhi, the capital of India, within two weeks of the conclusion of the BRICS summit. Sheikh Hasina will be present there on the special invitation of Modi.
One of the main questions of the Indian external affairs ministry is what is the rationale of the two prime ministers meeting twice in a span of just two weeks.
Even the diplomatic circles of Bangladesh cannot deny the justification of such a question. Diplomatic circles of the two countries believe that the two may meet on the sidelines of the BRICS conference in Johannesburg. But it may not be a ‘structured dialogue’ in diplomatic terms. The official discussion will be held in India.
Xi Jinping will also visit Delhi next month for the G-20 summit when he will hold a bilateral meeting with Modi. After the June 2020 India-China military clash in eastern Ladakh’s Galwan, XI first met and spoke with Modi at the G20 summit in Bali, Indonesia last year.
India kept the talk of that meeting under wraps for a long time. Recently it came to light. At the time of the Bali meeting, the standoff between Indian and Chinese forces along the Line of Actual Control was as tense as it is today. Despite 19 army-level meetings, a final settlement of that position has not yet taken place.
In this situation, the rationale of a possible meeting between Modi and Xi at the BRICS summit was also questioned on Monday. The foreign secretary also avoided that question tactfully. Congress leader Rahul Gandhi has recently raised an old question about East Ladakh.
Rahul is currently visiting Ladakh. There, he said, the local residents of Ladakh told him that the Chinese army had crossed the Line of Actual Control and was stationed on Indian soil. Local people have not been able to go to that comfortable grazing land of animals for a long time.
Vinay Kwatra also dodged a question on Monday regarding the proposal of including Bangladesh into BRICS. He also did not answer how India is viewing the new visa policy of the US about Bangladesh. The international initiative about the forthcoming parliament election of Bangladesh is a huge discussion point in India and Bangladesh.
According to a section of the Indian external affairs ministry, China is interested in making Bangladesh a member of BRICS. India does not want China becoming powerful by bringing its followers and close countries to the organisation. Therefore, India is cautious about the possibility of increasing BRICS fleet and inclusion of Bangladesh.
Bangladesh has not also said anything clearly whether Hasina will meet with Modi in Johannesburg or not. Nothing is being said specifically about the possible meeting of XI-Hasina. Some quarters believe that if there is a Xi-Hasina meeting in South Africa, some are interested in seeing a Modi-Hasina meeting there to keep the balance.
India and Bangladesh—both countries have parliamentary elections next year. Before that, the two prime ministers will attend their last official meeting in Delhi in September. The United States’ special interest in Bangladesh’s vote and the relationship between these two trusted South Asian neighbours have become hot topics at the moment. Because of that, extreme political activities have increased.
Source: Daily Prothom Alo.