Indian Foreign Secretary Vijay Keshav Gokhale is coming to Dhaka on April 8 on a two-day visit. He took office as foreign secretary on January 18 last. It will be his first visit to Bangladesh after taking the office. On this two-day visit, the Indian minister is scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. According to diplomatic sources, the purpose of his visit to Bangladesh is to finalize the upcoming sideline meeting between PM Sheikh Hasina and PM Narendra Modi during the upcoming Commonwealth Summit in UK and accelerate the Teesta water-sharing deal.
However, nobody is ready to rule out the political significance of his visit just nine months before the general election of the country. The role of India in the politics of Bangladesh is no longer a secret. India openly supported the election of January 5, 2014. The then Foreign Secretary of India Sujatha Singh visited Dhaka on a day-long trip on December 4, 2013 and held discussions with the political parties. She held a meeting with the Chairman of Jatiya Party (JaPa) HM Ershad to join the polls. After the January 5 election, India gave legitimacy to the election when several others disagreed. It is for India that the United States, European Union, and United Kingdom did not question the election. It was the government of Congress then under the leadership of Sonia Gandhi. Awami League (AL) has a close tie with Congress. Modi was sworn in as the Prime Minister of India on 26 May 2014 defeating Congress. Many assumed then that AL would clash with Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) as the latter is a right-wing party. Many feared that BJP would not support AL. BNP becoming thrilled at this thought even distributed sweets and the current acting chief of BNP Tarique Rahman sent a congratulatory message from London. But, Modi shocked everyone by putting trust on Sheikh Hasina government and deciding to offer his full support, although it was said that the Modi government would not support the election of January 5.
When Sushma Swaraj, the Minister of External Affairs of India, visited Bangladesh in October last, she clearly stated, ‘We want to see a participatory election in Bangladesh. The election should reflect the desire of the people.’ But, as time goes, it gets clearer that India’s confidence is growing in Sheikh Hasina. Like the Congress, the BJP also wants a secular government who would stand against the militancy and terrorism. It is clearly frustration for the BNP leaders that the BJP cannot rely on them. Whenever the leaders of BNP get the floor, they do not stop from saying the current government is in power by keeping India happy. However, the diplomatic policy of India remains unchanged. Other countries will support India’s decision on Bangladesh issue.
So, the question is, why does India want AL? Why does India feel uncomfortable when it comes to some other party other than AL? Bangla Insider has found ten reasons after talking with people who are associated with Indian politics, diplomacy and political analysis. Those are-
1)AL’s zero tolerance policy against the separatists. India spends almost a billion dollars each year to curb the separatists. Bangladesh used to be the sanctuary of the separatists and a training ground of the guerrillas. When the government of Sheikh Hasina came to power in 2008, it declared, ‘The soil of Bangladesh will no longer be used by the separatists.’ The strong stance of Sheikh Hasina has curbed regional terrorism of India. That is why India intends to put its confidence in AL.
2) The intelligence agency of India has classified information that the BNP has a close connection with the notorious spy agency of Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). ISI is the biggest provider of the separatist groups of India. India has information that the different separatist groups including the United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) have connection with the BNP acting chairman Tarique Rahman. Especially in 2001-2006, BNP supported the separatist groups in all possible ways. The incident of seizing 10 truck armaments is one of the most significant instances. For this, the BJP government does not want to take any risk. Therefore, India does not want to take risk and bring danger on its own.
3) AL government is much more responsible for the minorities, especially for the Hindu minority. Now, there is no state backed incident of the Hindu minority getting oppressed. That is why AL is the first choice of BJP.
4) ‘Sheikh Hasina is the role model of the world in combating militancy’-Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi made such remarks in at least three of his speeches. If force of militancy rises in Bangladesh, it will also cause harm to India too. India reasons that BNP is in a close tie with militancy. That is why Modi trusts Sheikh Hasina.
5) The relation of India and Bangladesh started to worsen after 1975. At one point, the relation reached a very fragile stage. But Sheikh Hasina took the relationship between the two countries to a respectful compromise. She has solved many unresolved issues through amity. India does not want to intersect in this advancement. India has also benefited from many bilateral issues including transit. India does not want to threaten these facilities.
6) China is the biggest threat to India in this region. China`s economic aggression has now reached to Bhutan. Although China`s relationship with the Awami League government is good, it is not equal to India. On the other hand, BNP is keen on Pakistan-oriented diplomacy. If China`s authority in Bangladesh increases, then India will face the worst consequences.
7) Bangladesh`s relations with Pakistan are in the worst condition of remembrance. This is very pleasant news for India. But the BNP is still having connection with Pakistan.
8) One of the major reasons for Indian politicians to choose Awami League is that Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. Her biggest identity is that she is the daughter of the Father of the Nation. And Father of the Nation Bangabandhu is very respectable among the politicians of India. Therefore, no matter the Congress or the BJP comes to power, Sheikh Hasina always gets a different status. And as prime minister, she has proved that her speech is reflected in work. That is why India gives honor to Sheikh Hasina.
9) Tarique Zia tops the list of unpopular persons of India. Tarique is known as a rogue, corrupt in India. India`s allegation is that Tarique has the connection with Dawood Ibrahim. India has repeatedly proposed removing Tarique Zia from politics. Lastly, Sushma Swaraj suggested Begum Khaleda Zia to think about this matter. But India has understood that it is impossible to exclude Tarique Zia from BNP.
10) Sheikh Hasina is one of the most preferred politicians to the Foreign Minister of India who happens to be an influential leader of BJP as well. There is stance that he even forgot diplomacy while praising Sheikh Hasina. It is not a secret in Indian politics that he has preferred Sheikh Hasina openly.
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