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Prof Imtiaz: Congress better for Dhaka, BJP’s extremist pro-Hindu policies can provoke radical elements in Bangladesh

  • Published at 11:42 pm April 16th, 2019
National Congress party
A young Indian waves the National Congress party flag during a political rally of Congress president Rahul Gandhi at Bhavnagar district, some 300 kms from Ahmedabad on Monday AFP

Most Bangladeshis want a Congress Party govt in Delhi, say senior Indian journalists

A Congress-led government in Delhi will be better for Dhaka, because Hindu extremism in India has risen significantly in the five-year tenure of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government led by Narendra Modi,says a renowned international relations professor to the Dhaka Tribune.

Dhaka University Professor, Imtiaz Ahmed observed that if the BJP forms the government for another five years, things are likely to get “worse,” which is likely to encourage extremists in Bangladesh to “implement their agendas.”

Meanwhile, two senior Indian journalists said that if the past is any indicator, Indian foreign policy hardly changes with a change of government in Delhi, especially with respect to Bangladesh.

They also noted that most people in Bangladesh would prefer any party other than the BJP, to form a government , due to its “advocacy of Hindu supremacy, aid to increase Hindu extremism, and the ill treatment of minorities, especially Muslims.”

India started voting on April 11 in seven phases, to choose their next government. The largest democratic practice in the world will end on May 23, when election results are declared.

“In terms of cooperation in politics, business, and other sectors of cooperation, I don’t expect any change in policies from either side of the border. They should continue as usual,” said Dr Imtiaz Ahmed.

“But I, and perhaps many Bangladeshis, will prefer a Congress government over BJP being re-elected. The main reason being that during the last five years under Narendra Modi, there has been a significant rise of Hindu extremism and intolerance towards minorities, especially Muslims,” he said.

“So if there is another BJP tenure, things are most likely to go from bad to worse for Muslims. If this happens, religious extremists in our country may use this as an excuse to harm our minorities, and provoke people to do the same,” he said, adding: “That is why I say, Congress is good for us, as it is better than BJP when it comes to treating minorities.”

“If we look back at history, India’s foreign policy towards Bangladesh does not change with a change of government. So, Bangladesh should not be worried about the outcome,” Gautam Lahiri, a senior Indian journalist and former president of the Delhi Press Club, told Dhaka Tribune from Delhi.

Another reputed journalist, requesting anonymity, echoed his Indian colleague, but added that Bangladesh will be better off if the BJP government comes to power.

When asked to explain, he told this correspondent: “Look, don’t get me wrong. I am not a supporter of any hardliner party like BJP. I believe that the Bangladeshi people will be happy to see a Congress government. But, when it comes to striking deals like the Teesta water sharing agreement, I think that the government of Narendra Modi may prove to be bolder than Congress.”

When asked, both journalists acknowledged that a “majority of Bangladeshis will not like the BJP government being re-elected because of its reported mistreatment of minorities, especially Muslims, and its policies to promote Hinduism.”