With eye on China, New Delhi needs to keep Dhaka away from making binary choices

Written By: Sparshita Saxena
Noida, Uttar Pradesh, India Published: Jan 01, 2019, 05.01 PM(IST)

India-Bangladesh Photograph:( Zee News Network )

Story highlights

China is Bangladesh’s major trading partner and the latter is one of the important determinants in former's key Belt and Road plan. 

Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina secured a third consecutive term as the country's premiere on Sunday -- a win that wasn't just predictable but also in favour of India's vision of fostering ties with the South Asian nation. 

Bangladesh's socio-economic development flourished a great deal under Hasina's decade-long rule and so was the case with the deepening relationship with neighbouring India. 

PM Hasina's continuance in power is strategically important for India as her definitive stand on Islamic fundamentalists and extremists echoes with India's security interests.

PM Hasina's leadership has also maintained a sensitive stance toward India’s concerns about the northeast militancy fostered by ISI-backed Islamists operating from Bangladesh during the opposition BNP-Jamaat regime. With PM Hasina assuming power a decade ago, a serious crackdown was initiated which led to a considerable reduction of militancy in Northeastern states like Tripura and Meghalaya. 

High-level visits from both sides led to steady growth in the Indo-Bangladesh ties. Last year, the two countries launched a series of developmental projects while complicated issues of land and coastal boundaries were resolved.

The construction of the Akhaura-Agartala rail line and the restoration of the Kulaura-Shahbazpur section of railway line were the highlights among all initiatives jointly taken by PM Modi and his Bangladeshi counterpart in 2018.

The two countries also inaugurated the construction of a 130-km Bangladesh-India Friendship Pipeline between Siliguri in West Bengal and Parbatipur in Dinajpur. However, the issue of Teesta water sharing issue remained unresolved.

But China's play in South Asia's political dynamics cannot be ruled out. China is Bangladesh’s major trading partner and the latter is one of the important determinants in former's key Belt and Road plan. 

Earlier last month, a Chinese-Bangladeshi joint venture signed a deal with the Bangladeshi government to build a mega expressway. The project has been pegged as Bangladesh's first major public-private partnership (PPP) initiative aimed at boosting the nation's economic and infrastructural development and promote employment, a Chinese media report stated. 

With PM Hasina in for another term, political analysts and experts predict India-Bangladesh ties to further flourish. However, the immediate task at hand for New Delhi is to keep Dhaka away from making any binary choices, especially with China's growing power and influence in South Asia. 

(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed above are the personal views of the author and do not reflect the views of ZMCL)

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