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Security: After Pakistan, Lanka and the Maldives, China tries to pit B’desh against India

Security: After Pakistan, Lanka and the Maldives, China tries to pit B’desh against India

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Virendra Pandit

New Delhi: Like the US-led West, China is also trying to influence the ongoing Lok Sabha elections, and weaken the hold that Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government has come to exercise on the rising India since 2014.

So, after manipulating Pakistan for decades, and then Sri Lanka and the Maldives to go anti-India in recent months, China is raising the Arunachal temperature as well. Even after India rejected its claims on the northeastern state as part of “South Tibet,” Beijing on Monday “renamed” 30 places in Arunachal Pradesh in Chinese language, which it has been doing since 2017 as part of its ancient cartographic diplomacy and ‘salami slicing.’

Now is the turn of Bangladesh where China-supported Opposition is fuelling an “India Out” sentiment. It is being led by the Bangladesh National Party (BNP), founded by the former military dictator Ziaur Rehman and now led by his wife Begum Khaleda Zia, which it ‘supports.’

That is why the BNP-led anti-India leaders are demanding a boycott of Indian products. They launched this campaign a few weeks ago, alleging India’s ‘interference’ in the affairs of Bangladesh and influencing its elections.

Not only this, BNP is also trying to sour US-India relations.

Last week, a pseudo-journalist, Mushfiqul Fazal Ansarey, a former press secretary to ex-Bangladesh PM Khaleda Zia, asked US State Department’s spokesman Matthew Miller about the Arvind Kejriwal arrest. That was how secured a controversial statement from him which India promptly rejected as an interference in its domestic affairs and judicial independence.

The Bangladesh PM is aware of these Opposition tactics, the way PM Modi knows how some Opposition leaders, including Rahul Gandhi, question India’s democracy during their visits abroad.

That is why, while addressing a meeting of the ruling Awami League, which she leads, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wajed tore into the BNP leaders who called for a boycott of Indian products. “My question is, how many Indian sarees do their wives have? And why are they not taking the sarees from their wives and setting them on fire? Please ask BNP leaders,” she said.

PM Wajed, who secured the fourth consecutive term in office in the elections held earlier this year, said that when the BNP was in power, ministers and their wives would buy sarees on India trips and sell them in Bangladesh.

Sheikh Hasina then cited Indian spices and their role in Bangladesh’s kitchens. “Garam masala, onions, garlic, ginger, all spices that come (from India) should not be seen in their (BNP leaders’) homes,” she said.

Her remarks came after BNP leader Ruhul Kabir Rizvi threw away his Kashmiri shawl on the road as a symbolic protest against Indian products, “The Daily Star” reported.

These political developments are seen as the backdrop of a Maldives-type “India-Out” campaign simmering in Bangladesh. Launched by some anti-India activists and influencers and backed by a section of Opposition politicians, the campaign has gathered steam after the Awami League’s recent victory in an election boycotted by the Opposition BNP.

Those involved in the campaign claim India has been backing Sheikh Hasina to stay on in power because the status quo suits its interests.
While some BNP leaders, such as Rizvi, have voiced support for the campaign, the party has not spelled out its stand for fear of a boomerang. “Our policymaking body discussed the issue when some leaders wanted clarity on the party’s stand on the boycott call.

“Till now, our party doesn’t have any official stand on it. But it is also true that this is a call from the people and some of our leaders are supporting it,” said Sayrul Kabir Khan, a member of BNP’s media cell, “The Telegraph” reported.


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