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Thus Spoke The Tea Stall

April 11, 2017

Bangladeshi  PM’s much hyped India visit turned out to be a damp squib.

Everyone in Bangladesh was expecting that the much delayed Teesta water sharing agreement, carries paramount importance to Bangladesh and is a prestige issue for Hasina government, would be inked in this visit.

Regional politics once again threw cold water to the agreement. At the same time, it proves right the comments of skeptic critics of Indo-Bangladesh ties: India always defers promised deliveries.

In total 22 deals and MoUs were signed. The defense MoU generated much smoke that almost choked the goodwill of the visit. However, what the deals contained is yet to be ascertained.

In Bangladesh, BNP pitched higher the cry of selling the country to a foe. BNP chief made it clear that such deal guaranteed AL another 5-year-long tenure.

Transparency International Bangladesh in a press conference also demanded that government disclose nitty-gritty of the deal citing certain clause of the constitution. Opinion makers set forth their analyses and views on the op-ed pages. And most of the pieces bear a complaining tone against India as it failed to keep its words in implementing past agreements.

Opinions also abound in roadside tea stalls. I was taken aback by some of them. Let me share few of them:

1.Indians should never be trusted. They are very shrewd. They will sign deals with Hasina, at the same time, they will add fuel to anti-Indian movement inside Bangladesh. Such movement will tremble AL government that enjoys little support in Bangladesh. Then they will exploit Awami vulnerabilities to accept their offers.

2.Indians selling arms to Bangladesh? You know what. They also sold arms to the Talibans! Yes, Talibans! During the early years of Taliban insurgency, Indians joined Saudi-State Department efforts to arm the Talibans. Back then they supplied rusted arms and ammunitions, seized from Hyderabad’s Nizam, to Pakistan in exchange of cash. It’s true, I’m not kidding. I read it in a memoir written by an ISI officer who oversaw the campaign.

3.Indians also had deals with Sri Linka and Nepal. Look what happened. Civil war, regicide, assassination of President, Prime Minister. Indian sent troops to quell the Tamil tigers insurgents. They avenged by killing Rajib Gandhi. Those deals brought misfortune to those countries.

4.Now North Eastern problems may sneak into Bangladesh. These insurgent groups may make a political statement by doing something rash. Or the Indians may do it and then may put the blame on them. Look what they did with Paresh Barua, ULFA chief. They blamed Bangladesh for harboring Indian separatists and blackmailed us to hand him over to them. Even they told us that the grenade attack on 21st August was the act of ULFA. But when they got Paresh Barua they freed him and allowed him to do politics. May be he will become Assam’s chief minister one day.

5.These corporatewallahs are good. Indian govt do not trust them, South Block thinks they work for foreign governments, even RAW (IB) suspects their motives. TATA was once blacklisted by Indian govt for having links with the ULFA. Corporatewallahs have their own interests, which have nothing to do with those of Indian government.

6.OMG! Our beloved Army will be ruined. This will whip up the dormant cells of extremists inside the Army, which usually give space to ultra nationalist all around the world. They will restart the radicalization process. And there may be more coups and counter-coups in the offing!

7.Our defense industry will be weakened. Pakistan and China may stop offering us their state-of-the-art defense articles. We can hardly afford losing two such defense procurement sources as most of the platforms used in all the three services were procured from the two countries. Using multiple platforms will augment the maintenance and operational cost.

I had a good laugh on them and trashed them as speculation. Well, there is no point to take them seriously. They emanated from the road side tea stalls, after all.

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