Modi ignores protocol, receives Hasina at airport

Modi ignores protocol, receives Hasina at airport

PM's gesture apparently to help improve bilateral ties

Modi ignores protocol, receives Hasina at airport

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday made a departure from convention and received his Bangladesh counterpart Sheikh Hasina at the airport himself as she arrived a four-day visit.

With New Delhi walking the extra mile to accord a warm welcome to her, Hasina sought to make sure that her visit would see India and Bangladesh making some progress on the stalled negotiation for a proposed deal to share the water of the river Teesta.

Receiving the Bangladesh prime minister at the airport is a special courtesy that Modi has extended only to former US president Barack Obama and Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

A minister of state of the Union government is generally deputed to receive foreign leaders at the airport. The prime minister along with the President receives the visiting leader at the ceremonial welcome at the Rashtrapati Bhavan.

Sources told the DH that the prime minister departed from the conventional practice and received Hasina at the airport to underline the importance India attaches to its relations with Bangladesh.

She will be staying in the Rashtrapati Bhavan during her stay — a rare courtesy New Delhi reserves only for the leaders of the nations with which India shares a special friendship.

On the eve of her visit, New Delhi Municipal Corporation renamed Park Street in New Delhi after Hasina’s late father and founder-leader of Bangladesh, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

Hasina referred to the shared culture, heritage and resources of India and Bangladesh in an article published in an Indian newspaper on the first day of her visit to New Delhi. In the article, she wondered why if the two neighbouring nations could share so much, they cannot agree on sharing the water of a river.

Her words on Teesta signalled that an agreement with India on water-sharing remained a key expectation of Bangladesh, as both nations are keen to take the bilateral relations to new heights.

Officials in New Delhi almost ruled out the possibility of an agreement on the sharing of water during the current visit of the Bangladesh prime minister. Sources, however, told DH that the joint statement that will be issued after the meeting between Modi and Hasina will  signal New Delhi’s resolve to build consensus within the country for clinching the much-awaited deal with Dhaka.

Modi has invited Trinamool Congress supremo and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to a lunch he will host for the Bangladesh prime minister at the Hyderabad House in New Delhi on Saturday.

Mamata had in September 2011 opted out of the then prime minister Manmohan Singh’s entourage to Bangladesh, protesting against New Delhi’s bid to strike a deal on Teesta.