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বাংলা
Dhaka Tribune

New victories and old friends

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s victory will provide new impetus in elevating Dhaka-Delhi ties

Update : 10 Jan 2024, 10:11 AM

Sometimes the good news is predictable and yet when it comes, there is jubilation. One such news which has made everyone in New Delhi very happy and relieved is the return of the Sheikh Hasina-led Awami League to power for a record fifth time out of which, four times are consecutive victories in a row. 

At one level, this was expected. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina after all has emerged as a political force to reckon with in Bangladesh in the last decade and a half and the prospects for her victory appeared imminent to everyone. But now that it is done and dusted, the deck is clear for another golden chapter in the future of India-Bangladesh relations. 

In India, there is wide-spread consensus in the strategic circles that PM Hasina’s continuous stay in power will benefit the country and protect its interests in Bangladesh. Among all the other neighbouring countries, Bangladesh under Sheikh Hasina has turned out to be one of the most reliable allies for New Delhi in the subcontinent. 

This is most apparent in the security concerns of India which the Hasina government has always acted upon on a priority basis. Case in point is the Assamese insurgent group ULFA which was forced to join peace talks with India after Bangladesh no longer proved to be a safe haven for them.

The sense of relief in India after PM Hasina’s fourth consecutive victory is rooted in her government’s sensitivity towards Indian concerns. Naturally, New Delhi will be even more willing to understand Bangladesh’s development needs and extend all possible cooperation towards the same. 

Interestingly, when asked to give a message to Indians after her victory, a teary-eyed Sheikh Hasina couldn’t help but recall how India gave a safe refuge to her after assassination of her entire family in 1975. The warmth that she received during a six-year stay at her Pandara Road residence in Delhi will keep the spirit of cooperation and friendship in India-Bangladesh relations forever alive.

The future trajectory of relations between the two countries looks to be very bright. Under the leadership of Prime Minister Hasina and Indian Prime Ministers including Manmohan Singh and Narendra Modi, there have been many new developments in the Bangladesh-India equation across all dimensions that have touched the lives of millions of people across borders. 

One can cite the benefits from the increased bilateral trade where Bangladesh’s total merchandise exports to India have crossed $2 billion in recent years. However, the full potential in Bangladesh-India development partnership is yet to be harnessed. For this, cooperation in the domain of the blue economy can be a game changer in the next five years and it was for this reason that the two countries also signed an agreement to cooperate in the year 2022. In addition, the existing energy cooperation needs to be enhanced for the betterment of the people of these two nations. 

Regional stability becomes imperative for regional peace and prosperity. In this case, under the leadership of PM Hasina and Modi, Dhaka-Delhi equation has become the best example of how to address cross-border terrorism and religious extremism. The same equation of Dhaka-Delhi regional cooperation can now focus on protecting marine biodiversity in the Bay of Bengal and Indian Ocean region. 

At the global level, Bangladesh and India share similar values and thus a common affinity exists in them to promote the interest of the developing world. PM Narendara Modi and Sheikh Hasina have already become prominent voices from the Global South. Together, their cooperation can not only be an exemplary model of South-South cooperation but together, Dhaka and Delhi can also promote their mutual interests and aspirations on global platforms. 

Dr. Monica Verma holds a PhD from Department of International Relations, South Asian University, New Delhi. She teaches at NECU, Nagaland and writes extensively on India’s foreign policy. Md Shariful Islam is an Associate Professor of International Relations at the University of Rajshahi, Bangladesh. He is also an adjunct research fellow at the KRF Center for Bangladesh and Global Affairs, Dhaka.

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