The special status of the India-Bangladesh friendship continues. On December 15, President Ramnath Kovind will make his first visit abroad since the pandemic, visiting Bangladesh for a three-day tour. As the only foreign dignitary at the celebrations for the 50th anniversary of Victory Day on December 16, Kovind will both witness and make history.
Gestures matter and in the past year, despite there being slight tensions over the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), India and Bangladesh have chosen to put their close relationship on display. The visit come after Prime Minister Narendra Modi went to Bangladesh in March at Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's request, to attend National Day celebrations.
“I would say having visited the country...it is an extraordinary relationship,’’ foreign secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla said at a special briefing on Tuesday. “It is based on history, culture, language. It can’t be replicated."
This will be the first Presidential visit by an Indian President since 2013, when Pranab Mukherjee made Dhaka his first port of call. “It is of great historical significance that 2021 commemorates the golden jubilee of Bangladesh's independence. It commemorates 50 years of establishment of diplomatic relations between our two countries,” Shringla said.
Kovind will begin his trip by paying his respect at the Martyr’s Memorial to mark the three million killed by Pakistan. He will also visit the Bangabandhu Museum. The President will be the chief guest at the Victory Day Parade on December 16. “India stood shoulder to shoulder with Bangladesh,’’ Shringla said. The message Kovind hopes to carry is that India will stand by Bangladesh.
He will also hold delegation-level talks with his counterpart, Bangladesh President Abdul Hamid. India and Bangladesh have chosen to focus on connectivity projects in the past year. Bangladesh was the “central pillar’’ of India's Neighbourhood First and Act East policies. India hopes to deepen the relationship in newer areas as well.