Bangladesh is often described as an Indian -locked country. Although the south of the country is open to the Bay of Bengal, Indian powerful Navy could deny the passage of Bangladesh Navy in the Bay. India, given its geographical and central position in South Asia, sharing borders with its neighbours, India has reportedly direct or indirect influence in these countries including Bangladesh. The neighbouring countries reportedly admire India’s increasingly global role, although they are uncertain what their positions would be in situation out of India’s dominant regional role.
Bangladesh’s relations with India is like what the former Canadian Minister Pierre Trudeau (father of present Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau) once said about his country’s relations with the US: “It is like sleeping with an elephant; how friendly and even tempered the beast is, one is affected by every twitch and grunt” Many analysts say that similar comparable situation has been placed Bangladesh in relation to its powerful neighbor, India
In the context of the aforesaid paragraphs, it is expected that the leaders of major political parties of Bangladesh would visit India, especially when general elections in Bangladesh is to take place coming December/January. This is because India’s acceptance of Bangladesh elections would receive recognition by other countries.
First it was ruling Awami League delegation , led by its General Secretary and Minister for Roads and Bridges, Mr. Obaidul Quader visited India on April 22 at the reported invitation from India’s ruling party, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
We are informed from reports that during the visit, the Awami League delegation met with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Damodardas Modi at his parliament office on April 23. The delegation also met BJP President Amit Shah in the evening on the same day before attending a dinner to be hosted by BJP General Secretary Ram Madhav. Besides, the AL team met with the Lok Sabha Speaker, Sumitra Mahajan on 23rd April morning. Thereafter the delegation reportedly met a few Indian think-tanks.
It is reported that Obaidul Quader, on return, held a press conference at the party’s Dhanmondi political office in Dhaka and briefed the media in this regard. “It’s a party to party programme. India is more than a neighbour. Relationship between the two countries will be strengthened further through the tour,” he said without elaborating further details of the tour. Responding to a query, the Awami League general secretary said, “There is a beauty of Indian democracy that the country never interferes in internal affairs of the other countries.”
Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) delegations followed its visit to New Delhi at its own initiative, meaning that it was not invited by any Indian party. A three-man BNP delegation visited New Delhi on June 3-10. This trip was led by former Minister Amir Khasru Mahmud Chowdhury, currently a member of BNP National Standing Committee (Highest policy body of the party)
Newspaper reporters of New Delhi observed that the BNP leaders came looking for an “unbiased” approach to the national election from India. India’s ready-made answer reportedly was : “We don’t seat any party in power, voters do it.”
Thereafter, it is reported that Jatiya Party Chief, former President H. M. Ershad visited India on 22nd July and returned on 25th July. The Jatiya party has 40 elected members in the current Parliament of Bangladesh. Interestingly, he is also the Prime Minister’s special Envoy and his wife, Mrs. Rawshan Ara Ershad is the Leader of the Opposition in the Parliament.
It is reported that the Jatiya Party (JP) Secretary General Ruhul Amin Hawlader on 19th July said at a press conference that during JP’s Chairman visit to India, India’s External Affairs Minister Ms. Sushma Swaraj had praised their party’s role, both in government and as opposition, and hoped other democratic countries would follow the example.
“Sushma Swaraj said JP playing a role in the government despite being the opposition was a rare example. She appreciated JP as it came out from the traditional concept that the opposition cannot play a role in the government,” he said, as quoted by UNB. Chairman Ershad could not meet with India’s Prime Minister Modi because he was out of the country.
It is noted that Opposition Leader Raushan Ershad’s appealed on February 27 of this year to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, to relieve three of her party MPs from the council of ministers to help the Jatiya Party emerge as “real opposition” party in the parliament.
The people of Bangladesh would like to witness the country to prosper preserving multi-party participatory democracy to ensure the fundamental constitutional rights, including those of the people. Article 7 (1) of the Constitution stipulates that “All powers in the Republic and their exercise on behalf of the people shall be effected only under, and by authority of, this Constitution.”
Barrister Harun ur Rashid, Former Bangladesh Ambassador to the UN, Geneva.