Indian speaker offers to train Bangladesh MPs (Lead)

February 22nd, 2009 - 9:15 pm ICT by IANS  

Somnath ChatterjeeDhaka, Feb 22 (IANS) Indian Parliament Speaker Somnath Chatterjee has offered to train Bangladesh MPs as he praised the restoration of democracy in the eastern neighbouring country as a “positive development” for South Asia.
Chatterjee, who arrived here Saturday on a three-day visit, praised the landslide victory of the centrist and Left-of-centre grand alliance led by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

“People of the whole world are happy over the victory of the grand alliance that leads the country in restoring democracy,” the speaker of the Indian parliament’s lower house was quoted as saying after his arrival here at the head of a six-member parliamentary delegation.

Chatterjee and his colleagues are here at the invitation of Speaker Abdul Hamid of the Bangladeshi Parliament.

Speaking at a function, the Lok Sabha speaker said the relations between India and Bangladesh were rooted in a “shared cultural, economic and political history”.

Both had worked together with common goals and aspirations in the past and should continue to do so, he said.

During a meeting with Hasina, Chatterjee offered to train Bangladesh’s parliamentarians, many of them first termers.

He said that in a parliamentary democracy, the legislatures had the “immense responsibility” of guiding the destiny of their nations and remained at the centrestage of their democratic polities, according to a statement issued by the Lok Sabha secretariat in New Delhi.

Chatterjee, who Thursday strongly reprimanded Lok Sabha members for their unruly behaviour back home, said the members should “show respect to the presiding officer who is the custodian of their rights and privileges”.

The speaker said: “Restoring the trust of the people in a parliamentary democracy, when there is a crisis of credibility of its institutions is the biggest challenge before us today.”

“The legislature needs to operate within the framework of well-defined benchmarks with due respect to the representative character of the legislatures, thereby ensuring their independence, effectiveness and accountability,” he said.

Both the South Asian neighbours have common parliamentary traditions, following the Westminster-style parliamentary democracy.

Save aberrations like brief periods of presidential system and military-led or military-guided regimes, Bangladesh has retained the parliamentary system.

There was no parliament for two years, between November 2006 and December 2008, when the country was ruled by a military-backed caretaker government.

Chatterjee informed the Bangladesh parliamentarians about the key initiatives he had taken as the speaker, including the setting up of the 24-hour Lok Sabha TV, the high-tech Parliament Museum, the Parliamentary Forums, and lecture series for MPs.

The Bangladesh prime minister and speaker also addressed the function.

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