The India connection
And why are Dr Singh and so many other senior Indian leaders visiting anyway? Yes, yes, I know — long live, or victory to, Indo-Bangla friendship and so on. But seriously, why take the trouble to come to Dhaka? I mean, Dr Singh doesn’t need to sign anything as far as transit is concerned. Ditto for geting ULFA leaders. Surely no one goes to Dhaka for the sight seeing (my Delhiwallah readers, Dhaka is every bit as ugly as your newer suburbs, and has little of the charm of Lutyens and Shah Jahan’s cities).
So, what’s going on?
Over the fold are four wild, unsubstantiated, contradictory speculations. The reader should take the previous sentence very seriously. I have no inside knowledge, nor any reference. But hey, what else is a blog for except to write one’s crazy ideas?
1. It’s hoi hoi time
When Sheikh Hasina visited New Delhi, I said don’t believe the hype. But maybe things have finally changed. The same issue of the Economist has an editorial commending India’s changed attitude towards neighbours. And the Indian officials are accepting responsibility for BSF. Maybe the Indian leaders are coming because they finally realise that better relations with Bangladesh is worthwhile. Maybe we will see a major water sharing or trade agreement. Maybe this time it will be different. Maybe this time for hoi hoi.
2. Enter the Elephant
Whatever transit might be worth economically, there maybe huge strategic benefits for India. Yes, yes, I know that Indian ministers have said transit is for peaceful purposes. Well, India’s nuclear explosion in 1974 was also for peaceful purposes. Soviet Union used to sign
military pacts friendship treaties for peaceful purposes. I am sure an India-Bangladesh Treaty of Friendship and Amity will also be for peaceful purposes, particularly if the said treaty calls for multi-pronged collaboration to fight extremism, militancy and threats to each others’ territorial integrity.
3. Hasina ney bulwaya…
Dev Anand didn’t know where his awara dil would end up, but Sheikh Hasina knows who her friends are, and who calls the shots in India. The Sonia Gandhi trip was about sending a message to Mukherjee / Bannerjee / Krishna / Chidambaram / Singh.
Now, from Shammi Kapoor to Shahid Kapoor, no one has had any idea what their hasinas want. What does Hasina want? Maybe she wants the hoi hoi time, for real. Or, may be she is seeing the writing on the wall, and wants an insurance, you know, the kind that India did not provide in 1975.
Whatever it was, one hopes Mrs Gandhi didn’t fall ill with some annoying bone from her hilsa becoming a গলার কাঁটা (yes, bad joke, but also a metaphor — got it, good).
4. Here today, gone tomorrow
The establishment support, that is. The Economist correspondent gets his view from, among other places, folks he shares an over-priced beer with at the Sonargaon. The people who can afford the over-priced beer in Sonargaon — the establishment — have had it with Hasina (without warming to her nemesis). And she is aware of it — hence the need for the insurance.