BNP trying to foment anti-India protests

Mohammad Al Amin

13 October, 2019 12:00 AM printer

Opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), currently in disarray, is trying to foment anti-India protests to belittle the government alleging the neighbouring country depriving Bangladesh on different matters.

Insiders say that the BNP has taken a policy to keep the ruling Awami League led government under a pressure and draw the attention of the Indian government to develop its friendship with BNP.

“BNP wants to maintain healthy relations with India based on equity. Bilateral ties should be based on ‘give-and-take’ policy. But the government is only fulfilling the desire of India,”BNP standing committee member Khandaker Mosharraf Hossain told a press conference at the party’s policy-making body on Thursday. 

Insiders say that the BNP was angry for the agreement signed with India on giving 1.82 cusecs of water from the Feni river and exporting liquidified peteoleum gas (LPG) during Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s recent visit to New Delhi.

They allege that the Awami League was “underming” national interest to further strenthem its ties which was forcing BNP to take to the streets with anti-India agenda

Mosharraf asked the government to make public the bilateral documents signed during the Prime Minister’s visit to India with full explanation

“We also want the government to cancel all the deals that are against the country’s interests,” he added.

At the meeting of BNP standing committee, held at BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia’s Gulshan office in the capital on Wednesday night, the party took a decision to stage protest against the deals with India.

The party staged demonstrations in metropolitan cities on Saturday while a similar programme will be undertaken in the districts today (Sunday).

Addressing the Saturday’s protest rally, Khandaker Mosharraf Hossain said “The agreements were signed with India were not for the interest of Bangladesh. It was done for subservient foreign policy and policy of flattering India by the incumbent government.”

BNP another standing committee member Moudud Ahmed said “The country’s people know that you (Sheikh Hasina) have sold the country’s sovereignty (to India through signing documents). You could not bring anything for the country.”

The BNP’s components of 20-party alliance and Jatiya Oikya Front are also observing programmes against the deals.

Asked about current relations of BNP with India, the party’s international affairs secretary Rumeen Farhana told daily sun “BNP believes in friendly relationship with foreign countries based on equal dignity.

The party believes in the same thing about the ties with India.”

BNP insiders said the party tried to develop relationship with India and tried to communicate with the ruling party of the India but they failed to draw the attention of the incumbent government

“Having failed to draw the attention of the Indian government, we have taken the anti-Indian stance and propelling the people rise against India,” said a leader.

Though India has provided shelter to thousands of Bengalis during the war of independence, a large number of Bangladeshis carry anti-Indian sentiments

The BNP is now trying to draw the attention of the quarter so that the Indian government is compelled to maintain healthy ties with BNP. 

“There are a large number of people of Bangladesh who hold anti-Indian sentiment. BNP can use the sentiment and wage movement against the incumbent government through branding it as pro-Indian government. This is a chance to take people to the streets by raising voice against the agreements signed with India,” said a leader of BNP wishing not to be named.

BNP’s acting chairman Tarique Rahman, who has been staying in London, has already instructed the party top leaders to raise voice against the instruments with India and drum up public support against the deals, insiders say.

Tarique, the second in command has also asked the BNP policymakers to continue the protest programmes to draw the anti-Indian public support and wage movement against the Awami League government, the sources added.

Against the party’s policy, a tiny group of the BNP, wants to end the party’s historic hostility with India. As part of their efforts, they develop sustainable ties with India before the 11th parliament elections.

A team of leaders including standing committee member Amir Khashru Mahmud Chowdhury and vice chairman Abdul Awal Mintoo, executive member Tabith Awal contacted with the Indian ruling party BJP and visited the neighboruing country for several times.

But their attempt went in vain as the party suffered a humiliated defeat in the elections. The BNP secured only eight seats, leaving it tottering in the field of politics. 

The first indication of the party’s potential departure from its long-time anti-India policy came in 2013 as Khaleda Zia did not called on the Indian president Pranab Mukherjee during his visit to Bangladesh.

Talking to daily sun, Pro-BNP intellectual Jafrullah Chowdhury said “The relationship should be friendly. But India only sees its own interest. BNP is now just staging protest against Sheikh Hasina, not against India. The party should admit India is not being equal on issues of bilateral interests. Our political parties have to realise that India does not make relation without its own interest.”