BNP welcomes Narendra Modi's visit, says its stance not anti-India

Dhaka, May 28: Hoping that Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit will strengthen bilateral ties, Bangladesh's main opposition Khaleda Zia-led BNP on Wednesday said it is not anti-India but its stand on issues like border killings and Teesta water sharing reflects the common public opinion.

"We hope the upcoming visit of the Indian Premier will strengthen the existing ties between two neighbouring countries," Bangladesh Nationalist Party spokesman Asaduzzaman Ripon told reporters at the party's central office here.

BNP welcomes Modi's visit

He said the Indian Prime Minister has travelled to neighbouring countries for the stability of the region and "we also hope he will want the establishment of a democratic government for the stability and democracy of Bangladesh."

[Modi to visit Bangladesh on June 6-7]

Indo-Bangla ties have witnessed several ups and downs since Bangladesh's 1971 Liberation War against Pakistan.

The ties are said to have reached their lowest ebb during the 2001-2006 period when the BNP-led four-party right-wing government was in power with the fundamentalist Jamaat-e- Islami being a major coalition partner.

"We are not anti-India, though BNP's stand on the issues of border killings and Teesta water sharing reflect the common opinion of the people of Bangladesh," Ripon said when asked about BNP's past stance with respect to India.

Modi will undertake a two-day state visit to Bangladesh from June 6 to further bolster bilateral ties. In December 2013, Zia had asked India to "respect the aspirations of the majority Bangladeshis" as Bangladesh's politics had taken a turn over a tussle between BNP and the ruling Awami League over general elections.

"India does not have any special relation to any specific party or group, India's relationship is with the people of Bangladesh," Ripon said.

The details of Modi's visit are yet to be made public, sparking speculation here on whether he would meet Zia.

Ripon declined to comment on the matter, saying, "We want to keep it a secret. We will let you all know when the time comes."

Being the next-door neighbour and having an over 4,000 km pourous border with Bangladesh, India largely features in Bangladeshi politics with the ruling Awami League largely considered as a traditional ally of New Delhi while BNP is known for its anti-India stance.

The party, however, has tried to repair its ties with India with Zia visiting the country on an official invitation in November 2012 which was seen by some analysts as a bipartisan consensus in Bangladesh over its relations with India.


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