Bangladesh: India did right by not entertaining BNP; it would want Hasina to continue
New Delhi, Dec 29: Bangladesh will be witnessing its 11th general election on Sunday, December 30, and the Opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) of former prime minister Khaleda Zia is finding it too tough in the current situation. Zia has been in jail since February while her son and political heir Tarique is in London and it has left everything to Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir, the party's 70-year-old general secretary.
Alamgir recently spoke exclusively with The Indian Express said there is no campaign but a state-backed terror in this election season. He tried to stitch an Opposition alliance against the ruling Awami League led by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and even tried to contact with Indian leaders outside Bangladesh. He said they sought appointment from the Indian High Commissioner and met three times but felt that the Indian diplomats were not too much interested to engage with the BNP leaders. According to him, India is not kin for it thinks such a quest could upset the incumbent Hasina government with which the Narendra Modi government shares a cordial relation.
"We seek friendship with India. And contrary to the perception in India, we don't believe in communalism, fundamentalism. That's a totally a false perception that we are anti-India, this is part of Awami League's concerted propaganda," Alagmir was quoted as saying in the interview.
The BNP indeed has an anti-India image, thanks to its actions in the 2001-06 period when Zia was the prime minister, while its alliance with the Jamaat-e-Islami, an Islamist political outfit which the Hasina government has banned from contesting the December 30 election, is something that doesn't convince many about the BNP's pro-India claims. Alamgir tried to shed the Jamaat baggage saying the BNP is not Jamaat and doesn't believe in Islamic laws but there is little to believe that the Indian side will be convinced about these claims.
Alamgir said Zia had a good meeting with PM Modi in June 2015 but yet nothing progressed on expected lines. "There was no follow up," he said, adding: "We were disappointed. We tried to fix up a meeting with BJP's general secretary Ram Madhav in Bangkok in August this year, but the Indian side chickened out."
India will like to have the status quo
If the BNP is disappointed with India's gestures despite it trying to reach out to the former, New Delhi can not be held guilty for that. Bangladesh's politics now has Hasina as its dominant figure and New Delhi will not like to mess up things by opening parallel contact line with the BNP, which is not perceived to be India-friendly. India needs Hasina to be in power to ensure that its eastern borders are secured in times of terror threats and also that China doesn't get another opportunity to make inroads. It just had two developments in the Maldives and Sri Lanka that gave it respite. Why make things worse in Bangladesh by entertaining the BNP which is facing its worst crisis in history?