Vol. 5 Num 479 Fri. September 30, 2005  
Front Page

Govt to monitor Hasina's visit in India

Ruling BNP views Awami League President Sheikh Hasina's visit to India not as a religious but a political pilgrimage and has instructed authorities to closely monitor her programmes in New Delhi and Kolkata.

A highly placed government source yesterday told The Daily Star the Bangladesh High Commission in New Delhi and Deputy High Commission in Kolkata have been instructed to provide Hasina full protocol.

The source said the government has already got detailed programmes of Sheikh Hasina's five-day visit. Finding it significant, the government has instructed the authorities to keep a close eye on her itinerary and meetings.

The source said most of her important programmes are scheduled for today when she meets Indian leaders, adding that all the programmes were chalked out long before and handed her at the airport.

The leader of the opposition returned to New Delhi from Ajmer last night where a joint secretary of the Indian external affairs ministry received her. The deputy high commissioner of the Bangladesh High Commission also received her.

The source said Hasina would first meet her Indian counterpart and BJP chief LK Advani at his official residence.

She will meet Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at his office-cum-residence on Race Course Road at 12:30pm, which will most likely be followed by lunch. She is scheduled to meet Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee later today.

External Affairs Minister Natwar Singh will hold talks with her at the Hydrabad House in the evening when he will host a dinner.

The AL chief may meet ruling Congress Party chief Sonia Gandhi as well as the speaker of Indian parliament tomorrow.

Hasina will also meet West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharya and ex-chief minister Jyoti Basu at 11:30am and 12:30pm in Kolkata on October 2.

Hasina's programme schedule made no mention of her meet with Sonia Gandhi, presumably for security reasons.

"After seeing all her meeting programmes, the government is sure that it's a high-profile political visit by Sheikh Hasina. Her main purpose is to visit New Delhi to meet the Indian leaders; visiting Ajmer Sharif is not all the prime one," the source said.

The government has given importance to Hasina's visit because it is taking place ahead of the Saarc summit in Dhaka on November 12-13 and the next general elections, the source added.

Hasina's 11-member entourage includes AL presidium member Kazi Zafarullah, MP and her Political Secretary Saber Hossain Chowdhury.