Bangladesh PM Sheikh Hasina Slams BNP


Dhaka: Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Saturday accused BNP of having double standards on India after Bangladesh’s main opposition party claimed that under India’s pressure the government was set to ink a defence deal during the Premier’s upcoming visit there. “It was (BNP chief) Khaleda Zia who gave an undertaking of selling gas to India and came to power in 2001 (sacrificing Bangladesh’s interest)…So anti-India words don’t” suit them, Hasina said at a function of her ruling Awami League here.

The Premier claimed that despite BNP’s anti-India attitude, representatives of an Indian intelligence agency used to sit at Hawa Bhaban, the alternate power house of the then BNP government, before the 2001 polls which eventually brought it to power. Hasina’s remarks came hours after a Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) spokesman claimed India was mounting pressure on Bangladesh to ink a defence deal during the Premier’s upcoming visit in April. “The way India wants to create pressure is contrary to our national security and beyond norms,” BNP’s senior joint secretary-general Ruhul Kabir Rizvi told a press conference, as he obliquely accused the Awami League of being India’s sycophant.

BNP secretary-general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir asked the government to make public details of the reported military deal to be signed between Bangladesh and India, saying “it cannot happen that Bangladesh would sign an agreement with India and the people would not know anything about it”.

Indo-Bangladesh ties have witnessed many fluctuations since Bangladesh’s 1971 independence that was secured with India’s crucial help.

The relations are said to have reached their lowest point during the 2001-2006 tenure of the BNP-led four-party government with fundamentalist Jamaat-e-Islami being its major partner. Hasina said her government had signed the landmark Ganges water deal ensuring Bangladesh’s “just share” stand.

She stated that Zia “forgot” to raise the issue when she visited Delhi as the prime minister after the 1991 elections. Hasina said her government resolved a protracted land boundary problem, redrawing the border, and settled the maritime boundary dispute with India and Myanmar, protecting the national stakes.

“When reporters asked her (about the Ganges water issue) on her return from India, the then Prime Minister Khaleda Zia had said — oh! I forgot the matter…it has proved which party is doing ‘dalali’,” Hasina said. “Those who could not bring anything from India now become very much anti-Indian…they have played such games many times. BNP is known for its anti-India stance and efforts to brand Awami League as a ‘pro-India’ party to take mileage in domestic politics,” Hasina asserted. The BNP had welcomed Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s coming to power and retracted from its stubborn stance on transit to India during his Dhaka tour two years ago.