In the last year or so, our Ministers have become known for saying far too much and doing far too little about it. Whether it's a junior minister demanding sex on the phone or the recent far more embarrassing statement of Foreign Minister A.K. Abdul Momen about help from India to keep the regime in Bangladesh alive, both are damaging.

It basically points to a lack of public relations skill and preparedness to say what can be said in public gathering. Momen is more embarrassing because he is the "foreign" minister with international implications.

What Momen said

Speaking at a Janmastomi programme in Chittagong to a largely Hindu community audience, he said the following as reported in the media. "When I went to New Delhi, I told the Indian government that Sheikh Hasina must be sustained. Bangladesh will continue to march towards development and will truly become a country free of communalism under her leadership."

"If someone takes the country to the path of instability to shake Sheikh Hasina's government, then it is a danger for everyone. We want stability," Momen said.

The foreign minister said they told the Indian government that the two countries will work in such a way that neither side promotes instigative behaviours to maintain law and order and stability.

He said thousands of people from Bangladesh visit India every year and many Indians work in Bangladesh as there is development in Bangladesh. "This has been possible as the two countries are going through a Golden Chapter."

He said there are some wicked people and fundamentalists who create noise though the government remains silent." (The Business Standard .August 19, 2022)

The meaning and implications

Much of what he has said is facts. India is a major factor in Bangladesh and other south Asian countries. Under previous regimes when hostility was part of the strategy in dealing with India, the results were not positive. Many visit India and many Indians work here too.

The border protection investment is a fact too but whether India will pull back under any regime is questionable.

What Momen was trying to do is paint his government as a "secular' one in sushil parlance and hoping to compare the current AL regime favorably with the BNP as "anti-Hindu" . It was targeted to a Hindu audience obviously. But that it carried wider political meaning to the rest was ignored. It also made the Hindus look closer to India, something grossly unfair to all. Basically, it was the wrong place, wrong audience and wrong statement as consequences show.

This would not have been a cause of such hullabaloo had it not been India either which carries political luggage in Bangladesh. Momen has been critical of Indian media when it comes to their reporting on Bangladesh-China relations but Indo-Bangla relations is a politically sensitive one and Momen has goofed unfortunately in talking the way he did.

It's best if ministers are briefed on what to say and not say and where to go and say what. Their lack of PR skills has hurt Bangladesh's image. It backfired and hurt his current regime as well.

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