Bangladesh politics heats up over India’s position 2 and a half months after election

BNP expresses solidarity with a campaign to boycott Indian products, a move Awami League says aims to destabilise the market

Published : 22 March 2024, 04:24 PM
Updated : 22 March 2024, 04:24 PM

Bangladesh's politics has heated up over India’s stance on the last general election in January with a section of people calling for a boycott of Indian products.

The BNP has expressed solidarity with the campaign to boycott those products, a move the Awami League says aims to destabilise the market.

India’s position on the election went against people’s expectations, which led Bangladeshis to launch the boycott campaign, BNP leader Zainul Abedin Farroque said while speaking to the media after paying respects to party founder Ziaur Rahman at his grave in Dhaka on Friday.

Farroque, a member of Chairperson Khaleda Zia’s Advisory Council, noted India’s support of Bangladesh during the 1971 Liberation War from Pakistan, and said the party still considers India as a friend.

“But it can’t be that there will be democracy in one country and no democracy in the other,” he remarked.

He said the people expect democracies across the world, including in India, to support them and say the Jan 7 polls in Bangladesh were “undemocratic and unacceptable”.

“We’re seeing on social media that the people of Bangladesh have boycotted Indian products because of the country’s position against them,” Farroque said.

The BNP stayed away from the polls because its demands for the resignation of the Sheikh Hasina administration and the installation of an election-time caretaker government system were not met.

On Wednesday, BNP Senior Joint Secretary General Ruhul Kabir Rizvi said: “India does not support the people of Bangladesh, but the Awami League. This is why people are venting their anger by boycotting Indian products. They are enthusiastically protesting through the ‘Bharat Hotao’ [India Out] campaign.”

India – through its foreign ministry and the High Commission in Dhaka – has maintained that it always supports a peaceful and democratic election, as expected by the people, in Bangladesh.

Awami League General Secretary Obaidul Quader said last Saturday that due to India's support, many powerful countries refrained from meddling in Bangladesh’s domestic affairs, including the election.

On Friday, he said the BNP’s solidarity with the product boycott campaign was a “conspiracy to destabilise the market”.

Quader, who is also the road transport and bridges minister, said one BNP leader called for the boycott campaign while another sought India’s support to “revive democracy”.

“They have lost direction as a political party. How bankrupt and out of diplomatic etiquette a party can be to boycott a neighbouring country’s products!

“Actually, they are in a deep conspiracy to destabilise our market in the name of boycott.”

Although the issue of sharing river water with India has remained unresolved, the transfer of enclaves in a land border agreement proved that every problem can be solved through discussions if relations remain good, Quader added.