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Wednesday, February 7, 2024

RLA Press Release – Recent Bangladesh Elections and its Implications for India-Bangladesh Relationship

On 6 February, 2024 Red Lantern Analytica conducted a webinar titled “Recent Bangladesh Elections and its Implications for India-Bangladesh Relationship”. The expert speakers of the webinar included Dr. Ayanjit Sen, Associate Professor at Bennett University, Greater Noida, and Drona Bandyopadhyay, Assistant Professor at West Bengal Education Service.

Dr. Ayanjit Sen commenced the session by describing the relations between India and Bangladesh as – Continuity and Stability. He said, “A stable & prosperous Bangladesh is in India’s interest. The relationship between India & Bangladesh has improved significantly under the leadership of Bangladesh PM Sheikh Hasina.” India considered the Bangladesh elections as an internal matter. He added that Indian PM Narendra Modi was the first to congratulate Bangladesh PM Sheikh Hasina on her victory in the recently concluded elections. On her part, PM Sheikh Hasina termed India as a great friend of Bangladesh. “India and Bangladesh stand together strongly under the Prime Ministers of both the nations,” he added. He further added that all the attempts of anti-India elements in Bangladesh to sour the relationship between the two nations have failed. Dr Sen also stated that the attempts to discredit Bangladesh’s elections have also failed as the elections took place successfully with the participation of a large number of candidates.

Dr Sen also elaborated on initiatives taken by both India and Bangladesh to further strengthen the relationship between the nations, which included conducting trade in local currencies and ongoing talks between both countries regarding the Free Trade Agreement. He said that strengthening regional connectivity, defence cooperation and economic ties between India & Bangladesh are the best part of the relationship. “Both India and Bangladesh stand for regional peace, prosperity and stability,” he added.

Professor Drona Bandyopadhyay said, “From Cuttack to Attock, we are part of one civilization. Indian-ness is prevalent across the South Asian region. Bangladesh was part of Bengal. The region has a glorious legacy of democratic struggle post-partition of India and also after 1971.” Commenting on the Bangladesh elections, he said that it was a contested election and a festival of democracy. He also elaborated on the electoral history of Bangladesh and how mass movements took place demanding free and fair elections. He drew a comparison between Pakistan and Bangladesh while describing the free and fair elections. He also cited the example of Imran Khan who was installed by the Pakistan Army as the PM of the country by rigging the elections and the people of Pakistan silently accepted the mandate of the Army. On the other hand, democracy is mature in Bangladesh and people always demand free, fair and participatory elections. “A large credit for this goes to the robust election commission of Bangladesh which is independent and has strong powers. There is no such mechanism in Pakistan where the Army is supreme,” he added.

Prof. Bandyopadhyay condemned the electoral violence both in West Bengal and Bangladesh. He said this culture of violence during the elections needs to be stopped to further strengthen the roots of democracy in both regions.

He further underlined the reason why the People’s Republic of China (PRC) wants Bangladesh to become part of the Belt and Road Initiative. It is due to the fact that Bangladesh is uniquely, geographically positioned as the gateway to Southeast Asia.

He also noted that its stability, peace and prosperity are necessary for India’s northeastern region as well. If Bangladesh grows and prospers then the northeastern region and West Bengal will develop alongside. “India engages with Bangladesh & its constitution and not with Awami League or another party or stakeholder in the country,” he said. “Bangladesh always has had constitutional stability. Bangladeshis are mature enough and they have developed a big industrial state and their exports are also increasing,” he stated. “They have developed economically and they will develop politically too over time.” He concluded by saying, “Awami League and Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) can co-exist together and work together for the development and betterment of Bangladesh.”

Following the guest speaker’s address, there was an in-depth Q&A session. Mr Siddartha Ghosh, senior member of Red Lantern Analytica, moderated the session. Ms Kritika Rajput, research associate at Red Lantern Analytica, delivered the vote of thanks. The session was closed thereafter.

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