Dhaka: There were gestures galore by Bangladesh leadership across political spectrum for External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj in their first major bilateral engagement with India’s new government.
The three top Bangladesh political leaders -Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Opposition Leader Raushan Ershad and former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia- being women, saree diplomacy was very much flavour of the visit of the senior-most women minister in Modi-cabinet.
Swaraj carried Indian sarees for all of them and in return got famous Jamdani sarees.
Bangladesh went out of the way in terms of rolling red carpet for the Indian minister beginning with its Foreign Minister A H Mahmud Ali, setting aside protocol, went to receive Swaraj at the airport on Wednesday night.
Former Prime Minister and chairperson of Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) Zia, who had avoided meeting with President Pranab Mukherjee when he had come here last year, met Swaraj at her hotel this morning after which the visiting leader went to historic Bangladesh Parliament building to hold discussions with Opposition leader Raushan, who is Chairperson of Jatiya Party.
A all vegetarian banquet was hosted by Ali for Swaraj last night with Bangladesh Foreign Secretary Shahidul Haque maintaining that this was done in honour of Swaraj, who is a vegetarian.
In an unusual gesture, daughter and sister of Hasina also came to Swaraj’s hotel today to have a breakfast meeting with the minister. They also gifted a Jamdani saree to Swaraj.
“The visit is an excellent beginning in dealing with the new government in New Delhi. The misgivings we had on BJP’s stand on certain issues concerning Bangladesh have largely disappeared,” a senior Bangladeshi journalist said.