India turns into major force in Bangladesh’s politics for 3 reasons

(From top left) Professor Ali Riaz, Towhid Hossain and Shafqat Rabbi, from bottom left Md Mahmudul Hasan, Foyez Ahmed Tayeb and Monir Haider at the webinerScreengrab from the from the webinar

India is making maximum benefits from its neighbouring countries like Bangladesh, alleged speakers at a webinar on Friday.

They further stated that India has developed an “unfair” setting in the region, including Bangladesh, for its own advantage. The “all-accepting” mind-set of politicians as well as the people of Bangladesh is also highly responsible for this situation.

Speakers said these in the webinar titled ‘Bangladesh and its neighbour: Indian influence on Bangladesh politics’ organised by the Forum for Bangladesh Studies.

Distinguished professor of the Department of Politics and Government at Illinois State University, Ali Riaz, presented the keynote at the webinar.

“India wants to control the internal politics of Bangladesh,” he said.

Professor Ali Reaz argued, “First, India aspires to grow into a global power. Second, they have their own financial interest. Third, India wants to limit US influence in the region, including Bangladesh.”

He pointed out that for these three reasons, India has turned into a major driving force in the internal politics of Bangladesh. India has supported the incumbent government out of fear of political instability in Bangladesh in case the government led by Sheikh Hasina has fallen.

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Even the Indian analysts vowed for the continuation of the Awami League government ahead of the 7 January parliamentary elections, Ali Riaz mentioned .

He provided some reasons behind that in the webinar. He said the political analysts in India realised even without any survey that a change in power is likely in Bangladesh. They felt the fall of the Sheikh Hasina-government would lead to instability.

Professor Ali Riaz said Indian analysts assumed that if in case of a change in power, the alliance of Bangladesh Nationalist Party and Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami would form government and fundamentalists would rise. If Jamaat comes to power, the Pakistan Army might become a major force in Bangladesh, they feared.

They further feared that the BNP would support the rebels in North-East India if they came to power. Besides, a direct influence is also necessary for India to counter China’s growing influence in Bangladesh, he added.

However, Ali Riaz thinks none of these arguments had merit.

Former foreign secretary Md Towhid Hossain said whoever comes to power in India, the Awami League is always more convenient for them. It was assumed before that it wouldn’t be helpful for the Awami League if BJP came to power. However, that was not the case. Mutual interest is the key factor here.

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Towhid Hossain alleged that there are people even inside Bangladesh to take care of the interests of India and China. “There are a number of people at the top echelon of the country to ensure the interests of India and China. They are adamant to sell Chinese projects as they have interest in it. As a consequence, whoever comes to power in Bangladesh, India manages to obtain maximum benefits by maintaining relations with them. There is nothing wrong in it from the Indian perspective.”

He further said it was not important to India whether the people of Bangladesh love them or not. India just wanted to be the key player in this region.

Addressing the webinar, Texas University of Dallas teacher Shafqat Rabbi said, "Alongside this stance of India to get maximum benefit, there has developed an 'all-accepting' mind-set among the politicians and people of Bangladesh."

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Referring to this, Shafqat Rabbi said Bangladeshi people use credit cards for shopping the most in India. People are going to India for medical treatment. The people of Bangladesh have a tendency to copy India even in the case of marriage events. If it continues like this, then there is no way out of Indian hegemony.

The speaker at the webinar also questioned how respectful was India towards the democratic aspirations of the people of Bangladesh.

Faiz Ahmad Taiyeb, a researcher on sustainable development, said some people in Bangladesh feel that India is not respecting the democratic aspirations of the people of Bangladesh. India has become a big obstruction on the way towards the establishment of rights to vote and political rights.

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It is India’s liability to break the impediment to advance the relations between the two countries in a justified way.

Professor Md Mahmudul Hasan of the English language and literature department at International Islamic University of Malaysia presented the introductory speech in the webinar conducted by journalist Monir Haidar.