Indian Home Minister Amit Shah's remarks that "the poor in Bangladesh still go hungry" has upset Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen.
Momen termed these comments "sad, unacceptable" and expected maturity from the Indian leader.
"He is a wise man. Not all have wisdom of all affairs, however. Sometimes they make political comments," he told The Daily Star today in reaction to Amit Shah's comments published in an interview by the Kolkata-based Anandabazar Patrika Tuesday.
Amit Shah spoke of preventing illegal migration to West Bengal and other parts of India with iron hand by amending the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).
Anandabazar then asked why illegal immigration was happening even though Bangladesh made much economic development in last 10-15 years.
In response, Shah, who had been in West Bengal for election campaign, said there are two factors. One, the development of Bangladesh has not trickled down to the people of bordering areas. In the initial stage of development in any underdeveloped country, the benefits of development are reaped by the rich, not the poor. That's what is happening in Bangladesh now, he said.
"As a result, the poor in Bangladesh still go hungry. That's why intrusion is happening. The intruders are not only living in Bangla [West Bengal], they are also spreading to different states, even to Jammu-Kashmir," he said.
The other reason is the administrative problem of West Bengal, said Amit Shah, former president of BJP.
In reaction to this, AK Abdul Momen said he [Amit Shah] possibly thinks Bangladesh is still in 1970s or 1974, which is very sad.
In the last two decades, Bangladesh has made enormous socio-economic progress, including rural infrastructure, agricultural development, women education, reduction in child and maternal mortality and overall poverty reduction, he told The Daily Star today.
About 35 percent people in Bangladesh are covered by social safety net, he said. In some areas, Bangladesh performed better than that of India. "Possibly, we have not been able to communicate our progress to them. We need to do it."
India is also a big economy and has made much progress in economic development but recently per capita GDP in Bangladesh has come close to that of India, Momen said.
Momen said Bangladesh and India now are in "golden chapter" of its relationship, which will not be affected by the remarks made by Amit Shah. "However, such remarks create antagonism among the masses."
India is a mature democracy and those who lead the country are expected to behave maturely, he said, adding: "We don't expect anything irrelevant from them."