Now is the year of the birth centenary of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. The golden jubilee of independence of Bangladesh falls on this year. Bangabandhu’s birthday is usually celebrated as the National Children’s Day. Let children's lives become more colourful on Bangabandhu’s birthday. A colourful programme was held at Rabindra Sadan on March 17. Educationist Pabitra Sarkar, Firhad Hakim and Tawfiq Hasan took part in the discussion organised by the Embassy of Bangladesh in Kolkata. Renowned personalities of this part of Bengal paid tributes to Bangabandhu. In the second session of the programme, songs of Mujib Barsho like ‘Sonar Bangladesh’ and ‘7th March’ were sung by Chirantan Bandyopadhay. This was followed by a session of poetry recital by Bratati Bandopadhyay and Nachiketa’s songs. Bangandhu got inspiration from Rebel Poet Nazrul Islam’s life and works. Amartya Sen, Kalyani Kazi, Rafiqul Islam, Selina Hossain, Abdul Mannan Syed, Karunamaya Goswami, Asadul Haque, Khilkhil Kazi, Manik Muhammad Razzak, Anupam Hayat and others wrote on the topic on various occasions. These writings have been compiled in an audio album titled ‘Nazrul and Bangabandhu’ after being read by different artistes.
The main theme is enlightened Bangabandhu by the spirit of Nazrul. This album was released on March 17 by Chhyanat Kolkata at Nazrul Tirtha, a cultural and educational centre, at Razarhat new town. Lots of people attended the album releasing ceremony that was planned by Somrita Mallick. This news story was published in Bangla version of the Times of India. Reading the story, momentarily I reached Dhaka from New Delhi via Kolkata.Kolkata is busy in organising this type of cultural activities when Narendra Modi is set to visit Dhaka. And just in such a period, I learnt from Indian newspapers that several left-leaning student organisations of Dhaka University and a few Islamic organisations are preparing themselves by chanting ‘Go Back’ slogan against Narendra Modi. Ahead of the Indian prime minister’s upcoming Dhaka tour, they are chanting such slogan. Announcing a religious war, the Islamic organisations have been activating themselves to oppose Modi on the soil of Bangladesh.
However, this sort of demonstration or showing black flag to a prime minister ahead of his visit is not something new. Not to speak of Pakistan, this type of force exists in both India and Bangladesh. Accompanied by Atal Bihari Vajpayee, I went to Pakistan during the Lahore bus trip. Vajpayee was proceeding towards Lahore fort when four to five persons standing beside the fort showed black flags to him. In that case, many people tell that this force enjoyed intense support of Pakistan army or the ISI. This force was under control of Pervez Musharraf who was the chief of Pakistan army. Pak Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif did not possess such power. There are also debates over the Kargil War about which Nawaz Sharif was either aware or unaware.
But the happenings on the soil of Bangladesh cannot, in any way, be compared with those of any other country. India gives much importance to Sheikh Hasina’s friendly attitude towards India. So, India wants to move forward based on friendship with Bangladesh. In an unprecedented move, Bangladesh-India Friendship Bridge has been opened just a few days ago. That heralded a new era. In South Asia, this is the first ever bridge on a river. Two sovereign states have been connected by the bridge. It is an historic event. But, alongside there is a voice of dissent. But, that is not a new phenomenon. Manmohan Singh was then the prime minister when this type of incident happened during his visit. Even, during Pranab Mukherjee’s tour black flags were shown to him by assembling a few people. So, this force exists. Alongside Jamaat’s power, Hefazat-e-Islam too plays an important role. By making friendship with the government, they have countered the powerful Jamaat. In that case, the Indian government also gave due honour to late Allama Shafi when he came to India for the purpose of treatment. Then he was virtually kept in state honour. He was the president of his organisation. After his death Allama Junaid Babu Nagari took the responsibility. Junaid Babu Nagari played a positive role while countering the fundamentalist force of Jamaat. But, in many cases, it has been observed that the head of any religious organisation get involved in power politics.
However, we shall have to carry forward the amity between these two closest neighbours caring less the opposing force. This moment, what is of utmost importance for all of us is the connectivity between India and Bangladesh. It is not a matter of just building a bridge but also expansion of trade and commerce, import and export and signing of river deals in future. These are the issues that matter the most.
This moment, it is a topic of hot discussion whether the BJP would come to power or not in West Bengal. Indian newspapers have published that Bangladesh government is helping Modi by arranging his visit to a temple of Matua community. But, I personally disagree with this theory. The reason is that Bangladesh is a sovereign state. India is also a separate sovereign state. Sheikh Hasina bothers little about the domestic politics of India. Although she was not in favour of the Citizenship Bill of India, but she never went against its government by negatively influencing the foreign policies of the two states. Again, similarly, Sheikh Hasina’s government never got involved in any conflicting politics of the centre and the states of India. In the prime minister’s tour schedule, the desires of PM Modi and the desires of the prime minister of the country of visit--all issues are usually discussed in Protocol department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the country of visit. The tour schedule is finalised considering all issues. And this time also, the same procedure is being followed.
At the moment, Sheikh Hasina held talks with the Sri Lankan prime minister as well as with the Turkish president. Maintaining good ties with China and Pakistan, she has been advancing to maintain a balance in South Asia as well as ensuring a peaceful atmosphere in the region. Both Bangladesh and India can realise so. This moment, the upcoming visit of the Indian prime minister has become most important. Now, all eyes are on Narendra Modi’s message that he would deliver during his tour. It is about accelerating the forward movement of the chariot of Indo-Bangladesh amity in the coming days.
The writer is a senior journalist of India
Translated by Z A M Khairuzzaman