In a video message broadcast at the celebrations of Bangabandhu’s birth centenary and the golden jubilee of Bangladesh in Dhaka, she also remembered the role played by Indira Gandhi, then prime minister of India, in Bangladesh’s independence.
“We in India have always had a special relationship with the people of Bangladesh. This has been in very large measure because of the role Indira Gandhi played in the historic events of 1971 and the deep bonds of mutual respect, admiration and the friendship that Bangabandhu and she established,” she said.
“On this joyous occasion and as someone who lived through the transformative hours, days, weeks and months of 1971 by Indira Gandhi’s side in her home along with my husband Rajiv Ji, I am personally delighted to share the pride of Sheikh Hasina and millions of her countrymen and women,” she added.
Indira Gandhi’s son Rajiv Gandhi later became the prime minister of India.
“Over the past five decades Bangladesh’s remarkable achievements in social development, community participation, economic growth and other areas have been very impressive and have received global recognition,” Sonia Gandhi said.
She said 1971 was as much a transformative year for India as it was for Bangladesh. “A year that saw Indira Gandhi in all her magnificence as a political leader and statesman soon thereafter Sheikh Mujibur Rahman himself emerged on the world stage as the leader of a free people,” Sonia Gandhi said.
“Both our countries face many challenges economic, political and environmental. Most of all, both Bangladesh and India which have been beacons for the celebration of diversities are being called upon to protect and strengthen their composite heritage and their glorious traditions of liberal pluralism,” she added.
At the programme, Bangabandhu’s daughter and Prime Minister Hasina was joined by her Bhutanese counterpart Lotay Tshering. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to attend the programme on Mar 26 Independence Day.