The ongoing India visit of a delegation of Jatiya Party, the opposition in Bangladesh parliament, is being considered as a step of the largest South Asian country to broaden its engagement with its smaller neighbour, especially because the JaPa delegation is visiting the country following the visit of a delegation of governing Awami League, reports The Hindu.
JaPa chairman GM Quader, who is leading the delegation in India, has called for an all-party dialogue to ensure a free and fair election. He has made the call when de facto opposition, Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), has been waging movement to press home its one-point demand of ousting the government to make a way for formation of non-party caretaker government that would oversee the upcoming 12th parliament election in the country.
Ghulam Muhammad Quader gave a telephonic interview to The Hindu where he said he maintained equidistance both from the governing Awami League as well as BNP. He told The Hindu, “It is very important for the government to come forward seeking a dialogue with all political parties. We want all sides should sit down and discuss a way out to ensure a free and fair election.”
In the interview, the JaPa chairman did not extend support to BNP’s demand of caretaker government, instead, he appeared to support a third alternative — a compromise formula — that can address the hard positions and told The Hindu, “We have a formula in mind and we will place it on the table when an all-party dialogue takes place.”
The visits of Awami League and Jatiya Party delegations to India have become more significant as prior to the visits a two-member delegation of the US Congress visited Bangladesh last week. During their visit to Bangladesh, US Congressmen Rich McCormick and Ed Case met with Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen and representatives of BNP and Jatiya Party.
The two US Congress members insisted that the US wants to see an election in Bangladesh that would be globally regarded as a free and fair poll. The US has been for the last few months insisting on free, fair, peaceful and participatory election in Bangladesh.
The Hindu report further said after visiting Bangladesh, the two US Congressmen went to India and held a “closed-door discussion” at the Observer Research Foundation (ORF) in New Delhi on 17 August. On the previous day, according to The Hindu report, ORF held a meeting with Clifford Smith, Washington Project Director, Middle East Forum, USA, where he hinted at the difficulty that the US is facing in making up its mind regarding the evolving situation in Bangladesh. Smith presented a detailed account of the Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami’s activities in the Bangladesh diaspora in the US and said that at one point, the student wing of Jamaat was “the most violent in the world,” added The Hindu report.
“Mr. Smith, however, pointed out that Hasina’s anti-terror outfit, RAB has not done enough to crack down on the religious fundamentalists. These remarks from the U.S., were met with reiteration of the mainstream Indian position by Joint Secretary at Bangladesh and Myanmar Division of the Ministry of External Affairs Smita Pant,” said The Hindu report.
The Hindu report ended surmising, “The ongoing exchanges are clearly broadening with the arrival of Jatiyo(a) Party here with some Dhaka sources indicating that similar ‘windows’ are also open at other relevant quarters. Apart from these, the government-to-government discussion will deepen as both PM Modi and PM Hasina will fly to Johannesburg for the BRICS summit where Bangladesh is among several economies that are seeking BRICS membership.”