With parliamentary elections in Bangladesh just months away, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi yesterday threw his weight behind the government of Sheikh Hasina terming her leadership as “bold and courageous” in the “remarkable” socio-economic development of Bangladesh.
Modi conveyed his appreciation for Hasina when visiting General Secretary of Awami League Obaidul Quader called on him at his official residence at 7 Lok Kalyan Marg (formerly known as Race Course Road).
Asked about his meeting with Modi, Quader said, “It went extremely well. It was very positive.” He did not say anything further and said Press Minister of the Bangladesh High Commission Farid Hossain would brief the media about the meeting.
The meeting between Modi and Quader, who led a four-member AL delegation, began at 4:15pm and lasted for half an hour, Hossain said later.
According to Hossain, Modi “lauded the bold and courageous leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in the remarkable success of Bangladesh in socio-economic development.”
In this context, the Indian PM recalled his meeting with Hasina on the sidelines of the Commonwealth Summit in London last week, his meetings with Bangladesh President Md Abdul Hamid who attended the International Solar Alliance Summit here in February, and Toufiq Elahi Chowdhury, Economic Affairs Adviser to the Bangladesh PM, on the sidelines of the International Energy Forum conference here, Hossain said.
Modi said Hasina is treading the path of development shown by Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. He said while Bangabandhu brought freedom to Bangladesh, the development path followed by Bangladesh under his and Hasina's leaderships has seen the country leaving Pakistan far behind in the indices of socio-economic development.
“In terms of socio-economic development, Bangladesh has advanced much ahead of Pakistan,” Modi told the Bangladesh delegation while praising Bangabandhu and his daughter Sheikh Hasina. “Look at your country. You are much ahead of Pakistan in socio-economic indicators,” the Indian PM said.
On the unresolved Teesta issue, Modi told Quader that he is trying to resolve it, Hossain said.
Referring to the issue of Rohingya refugees and Bangladesh's role in providing shelter to “the forcibly-displaced people” from Myanmar, the Indian premier said his country wants an early resolution to the problem. He also supported Bangladesh's position on the issue.
Quader, the road transport and bridge minister, conveyed the good wishes and greetings of Hasina and the people of Bangladesh to Modi.
Considerable political significance is being attached to the AL delegation's meeting with Modi as it marks a party-to-party relationship (between AL and BJP) in the run-up to general elections in Bangladesh likely to be held either late this year or early next year.
Sources said the political situation in Bangladesh and BNP's stance on participation in the elections also figured in AL's talks with Modi and the rest of the BJP leadership.
At the meeting, Quader, who arrived here on Sunday for a three-day visit at the invitation of BJP, was accompanied by AL presidium member Pijush Kanti Bhattacharya and party Joint General Secretaries Mahbubul Alam Hanif, Jahangir Kabir Nanak and Abdur Rahman. Bangladesh's High Commissioner to India Syed Muazzem Ali was also present.
India's National Security Adviser Ajit Doval, Foreign Secretary Vijay Keshav Gokhale, Joint Secretary in the Ministry of External Affairs in charge of Bangladesh and Myanmar Sripriya Ranganathan and MEA spokesman Raveesh Kumar were also present in the meeting between Modi and the AL delegation.
Later, a 20-member AL delegation had a nearly two-hour meeting with BJP General Secretary Ram Madhav, who is the party's pointsman of RSS, the party's spiritual fountainhead, at the BJP national headquarters on Deen Dayal Updhyay Marg. The meeting, which began at 6:00pm, was also attended by senior BJP leader Vinay Saharsbudhe.
Later, Madhav hosted a dinner for the visiting 20-member AL delegation at the official residence of Indian Commerce and Industry Minister Suresh Prabhu who will visit Bangladesh in June.