by Nadeem Qadir in Dhaka
Indian Foreign Secretary Harsh V Shringla clarified on Monday to newsnextbd.com that his brief visit to Bangladesh went off well and there was no “dip” in bilateral ties.
Exchanging views virtually with newsnextbd.com soon after a piece titled “Shringla’s Visit: Hasina Calls the Shots” was published, India’s top foreign affairs diplomat said, “there is no dip in our ties and the visit was to carry forward the momentum of the strong and close relationship.”
Foreign Secretary Shringla said “There was a very good conversation that covered many issues (and) not one of which was contentious.”
“We have got a lot of things going and this will become evident next year when we celebrate our 50th anniversary” of diplomatic ties, he said.
Shringla held talks with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at her official Ganabhaban residence, the first foreign guest to meet her since the COVID-19 pandemic started, and his Bangladesh counterpart Masud Bin Momen. He is said to have conveyed a message from Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Sheikh Hasina.
The newsnextbd.com piece said “A lot have been written and said about the hush-hush whirlwind trip of Indian Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla and what eventually was the outcome following an unprecedented ‘dip’ in bilateral ties.”
There were lot of speculations, but were “incorrect” and reported according to individual perceptions, he added.
Shringla was his country’s envoy to Bangladesh between 2016 and 2019, and has a clout over different sections of people, including the media.
The media in both the South Asian countries churned out news and opinionated pieces, with the Indian media mostly blaming its own government for the dip, while the Bangladesh ones tried to bring to light the subjects raised during the one-hour talks between Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Shringla.
The hush-hush trip and the diplomatic jargons dished out to the media is apparently an attempt by both the countries to hide the embarrassment of the dip in bilateral ties of the region’s “true friends.” The dip should never have taken place.”
The piece ended, saying “I can only echo India’s seasoned journalist Suvojit Bagchi that “For India, the diplomatic battle for Bangladesh has just begun.”
“I want to add that the battle, especially with a tough leader like Sheikh Hasina calling the shots with ‘my country, my people first policy,’ must be well strategized by Prime Minister Modi.”
Meanwhile, sources in New Delhi told newsnextbd.com that the Indian government felt that reference to India as a true and historic friend and China as a trading partner was a “mischaracterization.”
India is the largest contributor for projects now underway worth 10 billion dollars, the sources said.