Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Saturday said her government had protected Bangladesh’s interests while maintaining friendly relations with India even as she blamed past Bangladeshi leaders for making compromises when in power.
“They all – Zia, Khaleda Zia and Ershad uttered anti-Indian words in public but were out to please India for their own narrow gains,” she said at a reception by her ruling Awami League in Dhaka, as she referred to the past regimes of Ziaur Rahman, Khaleda Zia, and Muhammad Ershad.
Hasina recounted her government’s achievements in inking deals with India for fair share in the Ganges waters and ending a 68-year-long pending enclave and land boundary dispute and amicable settlements of the maritime boundary in international tribunals.
“We did all these maintaining friendly relations . . . the LBA (land Boundary agreement) was passed in Indian parliament in a festive manner with consent of all parties there,” she said.
Hasina’s comments came as Bangladesh is set for its next general election in the year-end as relations with India are emerging as a political issue.
Traditionally, the Awami League is largely regarded as a India-friendly party while former premier Zia’s Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) is generally known for its tough stance on India.
Hasina also blasted the ‘Prevent Boat’ campaign, referring to her party’s poll symbol, ahead of the election.
“There is a quarter in the country who doesn’t see any development and some are saying that the boat will have to be resisted. My question is those who want to thwart the boat want to bring the Razakars and war criminals in power?” she said.
The premier said the people of the country won independence and the right to speak in their mother tongue by voting for the Awami League.
“Bangladesh has become self-reliant in food, entered the nuclear club, launched its first-ever satellite and brought down poverty to 22 per cent as the people gave mandate in favour of the ‘boat’,” she said.