Bangladesh Nationalist Party standing committee member Amir Khosru Mahmud Chowdhury, who along with two other senior leaders visited New Delhi recently, has wondered why there was so much fuss about the visit.
‘If we can engage with America, Europe... what is the problem in engaging with India,’ Khosru asked.
The visit of the BNP delegation led by Amir Khosru to New Delhi in the first week of June ahead of Bangladesh’s general election and talks with major think-tanks of India have triggered strong reactions in political and intellectual arenas as there is a common perception that BNP is ‘anti-Indian’.
Amir Khosru said that they had discussed with Indian think tanks the issues which they usually discussed with other countries. ‘There was nothing special for India.’
‘What we discuss with American, European, British and Japanese officials were the matters that came up during our interactions with Indian think tanks,’ he said adding that the issues relating to the next general election, politics of Bangladesh, relation between Bangladesh and India were among the things discussed.
Khosru said that in the current political and democratic situation in Bangladesh a level playing field for elections could not be created.
The two other BNP leaders were vice-chairman Abdul Awal Mintoo and international affairs secretary Humayun Kabir, who joined in New Delhi from London.
The BNP leaders interacted with Indian think tanks, including Observer Research Foundation, Vivekananda International Foundation and Rajiv Gandhi Foundation.
Asked about the responses from the Indian side, Khosru said that they were aware of what was happening in Bangladesh.
He said that the Indian think tanks would also have to consider whether India would like to keep relations with Bangladesh and its people or only with any political party or group.
‘This is a very important decision to make for the friendship between the two countries,’ Khosru said.
He said that a lasting friendship could be built between two countries and two peoples, not with any political party or group. ‘Many in India have realised it.’
Khosru said that the foreign countries that would play positive roles for an acceptable, neutral and participatory election in Bangladesh for the interests of the people, not just for a party, would be seen as friends of Bangladesh and its people.
He said that they had gone to New Delhi to join seminars at the invitation of the think tanks.
He wondered why the ruling Awami League had ‘gone mad over their visit to India’. ‘If they had no headache over the trip as AL general secretary Obaidul Quader said on Tuesday then why they did not remain silent over the issue.’
About criticisms inside BNP over the trip, Khoshru said that some leaders might have individual opinions. ‘BNP is a democratic party, not a cadre-based party.’
Some senior leaders of the party said that they were not aware of the visit.
Khoshru said that the party had decided who would go in which seminars, symposiums and conferences across the world.
Asked whether BNP acting chairman Tarique Rahman had prior knowledge of the visit, Khosru said that the acting chairman, who was staying in London, was part of all decision-making processes in the party.
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