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Dhaka-Delhi ties in focus ahead of Bangladesh elections

WT24 Desk

India should ‘consolidate’ its position further vis-a-vis Bangladesh and ensure that prime minister Sheikh Hasina should return to power, reports an Indian media outlet attributing to a senior BJP leader, Agencies report.

United News of India, in its report titled “Bangladesh polls to be fraught with excitement on its ties with India” published on Sunday, termed the Indian government’s handling of matters related to Bangladesh as “good”.

UNI report observed, referring to “sources in the ruling BJP,” said efforts by Khaleda Zia-led Bangladesh Nationalist Party to gain ‘political legitimacy’ in Indian socio-political spectrum and media did not yield expected results.

“Elections in Bangladesh are due by the year end and so far Sheikh Hasina’s Awami League seemed to have upper hand as the party lately also swept the Gazipur civic elections,” the report said quoting a BJP leader.

Before the one-sided elections of January 2014 , India’s the foreign secretary at the time, Sujatha Singh, visited Dhaka and advocated participation of other political parties in the ballot which was then boycotted by the main opposition BNP.

“The robust India-Bangladesh friendship has come into focus as the dates for the vital parliamentary elections in Bangladesh are drawing closer,” wrote UNI’s Nirendra Dev from New Delhi.

The author referred to the Indian establishment’s ‘proactive interest’ in standing alongside Bangladesh when it disallowed entry of BNP leader Khaleda Zia’s British lawyer Lord Alexander Carlile into India.

“Indian government’s decision to deport BNP lawyer Lord Carlile was a decision in the right direction,” the report quoted the BJP leader as saying.

It mentioned that India’s home minister Rajnath Singh’s visit to Dhaka underlines India’s appreciation of the fact that once “fundamentalist and pro-Pakistan forces” gain upper hand and can dethrone Sheikh Hasina, anti-India forces will again find toehold in that country.

Dhaka has reportedly conveyed to the Indian minister that “in line with its zero-tolerance policy against terrorism and violent extremism, Bangladesh doesn’t allow its territory to be used by any terrorist individual, group and entity against any state or people”.

For his part, the report added, Mr Singh also tweeted saying: “Had an extremely fruitful meeting with the Prime Minister of Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina in Dhaka. We discussed a range of bilateral and regional issues of mutual interest”.

However, the report pointed out that the BNP leadership has of late tried to engage with India when three of its leaders visited India in June and also met a few top officials in the external affairs ministry.

The UNI report said for record, the Indian government has tried to maintain equi-distance from both Sheikh Hasina’s Awami League and BNP of Khaleda Zia.

MEA spokesman Raveesh Kumar last week did not fail to point out that prime minister Narendra Modi and external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj also met BNP leaders in the past, the report argued.

“Our engagement with Bangladesh opposition party (BNP) is very clear, you would have seen that whenever our dignitaries visit Bangladesh, we have meetings with them (Opposition leaders),” the spokesperson was quoted to have said. “We do engage with all the sections of the Bangladeshi political spectrum.”

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