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Sunday, November 4, 2012
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BNP's India politics at a crossroads

Hardliners show no change of heart; liberals want a change

While the mainstream BNP welcomes Khaleda Zia's latest steps to reverse its long-held anti-India stance, hardliners are yet to believe the big neighbour can be friendlier to the party.

As Khaleda during her just-concluded India visit said she would never support insurgents or terrorists and her party did not oppose transit, some top party leaders told the press the anti-India policy was a “mistake”.

However, there is still a stream within the party that believes the country's experience with India did not inspire the party into trusting a neighbour which had always tried to bully Bangladesh with its big brotherly attitude.

They say her statements would adversely affect their politics and it might have a negative impact on the party at the next general elections.

But this section is not willing to go on record as opposing Khaleda's latest stance just yet. Those in the group say they have to at first talk with the chairperson to hear from her about her position on India.

Several senior as well as many mid-level leaders in Dhaka have given their mixed reaction over the party chief's India visit that concluded yesterday, especially her interaction with the New Delhi leadership.

Liberal BNP leaders said the visit along with efforts to come out of anti-Indian politics was a bold step as such politics had become obsolete.

Talking to The Daily Star on Wednesday, former foreign minister M Morshed Khan said it would be foolish to bank on anti-India politics just to please a section of the country's people, as people in general very well understood the importance of good relations with India.

“Those days of anti-India politics are gone and it would be a mistake if anyone still maintains that stance.”

But hardliners say late president Ziaur Rahman founded the BNP through challenging Indian hegemony and people who strongly opposed India joined the party. The party's main strength is anti-India politics, they added.

They say the people who are new in the BNP and believe in shortcuts think the party can go to power by winning Indian trust, and they have apparently misguided the party chief into saying many things during this tour.

“Those who are the mainstream BNP can't be pro-India … the BNP was born with anti-India sentiment as the majority of people in the country are anti-India,” said a senior leader of the party, expressing apprehension that the BNP might lose mass support and true foreign friends if its “new policy to please India” continued.

It would not be wise for the BNP to keep faith in India or expect anything from it because, ultimately, New Delhi will help the Awami League win a second term in office.

Another BNP leader said although media reports suggest Khaleda Zia went to Delhi only to give commitments to India, he was confident that the party chief would not overnight change her mind and policy towards India.

Many mid-ranking BNP leaders think the visit is part of a conspiracy because her statements in India will weaken the BNP and its mainstream supporters and activists will be unhappy because they are part of the BNP for its anti-India stance.

Asked whether the unity of the 18-party alliance, a combine of extreme right-wing political parties, would be affected by this visit, a top BNP leader said, “Our unity with the Jamaat or other rightwing parties are not based on principles.”

This is a strategic alliance and the allies play no role in BNP policy making, the party leader said.

On Khaleda's commitment regarding anti-India militants and insurgency groups, he said the BNP had never said it instigated the activities of separatists or militants. So her statement in this context was not new.

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BNP's hardliners must admit that their politics is not for confrontation but for consultation and it must work out not for crossroads rather for progress.

: Sengupta, Canada

In present political and geo-political circumstances anti-Indian politics would not prove conducive for BNP to ascend power. At last they realized.

: Nasirullah Mridha,USA

Comments

  • Deep Purple Blue
    Sunday, November 4, 2012 01:17 AM GMT+06:00 (95 weeks ago)

    BNP will loose much of its popularity if it renounces its anti-India policy. I hope Khaleda did not mean all that she said in India.

  • Ali
    Sunday, November 4, 2012 01:48 AM GMT+06:00 (95 weeks ago)

    We must not forget that India so far has not ratified and or honoured any of the treaties or promises. So, when we are suddenly given a special treatment we have to understand the motive behind it. If a new chapter is to be written, so be it but one with mutual respect, and by removing all pending issues, and many more which are known to all on both sides of the borders.

  • Mizan
    Sunday, November 4, 2012 02:16 AM GMT+06:00 (95 weeks ago)

    I think neither anti- India nor pro-India policy is favourable for our national interest. So, any party, regardless of its own interest, should behave with India in a way so that our national interest can be secured.

  • Shah Deeldar
    Sunday, November 4, 2012 03:32 AM GMT+06:00 (95 weeks ago)

    It is up to how BNP wants to play the game. Hardliners have very little choices. Go forward with the prudent neighbourly policies or be prepared to be treated as pariah with very little communication and trade. Can hardliners afford to have an angry India next door?

  • Farid Hossain
    Sunday, November 4, 2012 04:09 AM GMT+06:00 (95 weeks ago)

    India supported and helped Bangladesh independence for her own interest, which was to weaken Pakistan, not out of sympathy to help the then oppressed nation of East Bengal. In fact it was India's strategic policy to break up Pakistan so that both Bangladesh and Pakistan become weak neigbours. Now that we are independent, we should have our independent foreign policy both towards India and all other countries on the basis of mutual interest and respect.

  • M H Uddin
    Sunday, November 4, 2012 04:19 AM GMT+06:00 (95 weeks ago)

    If you have a bad relation with the person next door, you cannot be friendly with others. The hardliners inside BNP think that anti India image will help them win the poll but they may not calculate the opposite impact. These days people are more and more conscious about extremism and war crimes and they also know that war criminals hate India because of its role during 1971.

  • Sharier Rahman
    Sunday, November 4, 2012 06:16 AM GMT+06:00 (95 weeks ago)

    The good faith shown by BNP is commendable considering India has directly or indirectly been trying to control our lives since independence and it continued killing our innocent poor people in cross border shooting.

  • Dr. Iftikhar-ul-Awwal
    Sunday, November 4, 2012 12:50 AM GMT+06:00 (95 weeks ago)

    Begum Khaleda Zia’s recent visit to India drew a lot of attention and controversy in the print and electronic media, both in India and in Bangladesh. This was especially so as BNP always considered India as a threat to Bangladesh’s economic and political well being and sovereignty. The threat perception from India has been made worse over the years by its non fulfillment of treaty obligations and antagonistic attitude towards Bangladesh’s major problems over land boundaries, border killings, in sharing waters of common rivers, in matters of trade and investment and in trying to build damns which would adversely affect our physical environment and soil. Most of these problems could be settled but we are being duped by India over the years. By keeping the irritants alive, India perhaps wanted to have transit over Bangladesh by rail and water, use of our ports, and the flushing out of the separatist political entities of India using Bangladesh as a sanctuary. BNP is certainly amenable to dialogue on many of those issues but a big leap must first be made by India. It has, very unfortunately, not even ratified the Indira-Mujib Treaty of 1974, let alone others. Even a friendly regime to India, AL failed to get for Bangladesh any substantial deal like that of Teesta or a confirmation of a no fire zone in the border belts. A democratic party like BNP has to take a practical approach to safeguard its self interest.

  • niloufar sarker
    Sunday, November 4, 2012 12:41 AM GMT+06:00 (95 weeks ago)

    Our experience with in India is that they sheltered milliions of refugees from Pakistani genocide & rape.They allowed our Freedom fighters to operate from their soil & went into war to liberate us.India was our friend in need.Is this denial stemming from the denial that Bangabondhu is not the father of the nation?


 

 


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