KOLKATA (TIP): Bangladesh is keenly watching the developments in India leading to the Lok Sabha elections. Sources in the neighbouring country said that the Sheikh Hasina government there wants a stable government in India for overall development of the region.
Political experts there are also trying to learn how a country like India has succeeded in bringing down the number of incidents of pre-poll violence. Bangladesh witnessed severe violence before the general elections earlier this year, resulting in several deaths. “A stable government in India will bring stability and development to the region. Countries like Bangladesh will benefit from this.
The smaller countries look up to India for development of the region. These countries can develop – both socially and economically – only if the political situation in India is stable. It is also much easier to develop ties with a stable government rather than one that is worried about its own future. There are issues pending such as the Teesta water-sharing agreement. These can only be resolved if there is a stable government in power in India,” a source close to the government in Bangladesh indicated.
There were allegations that all was not fair about the general elections in Bangladesh after the Opposition boycotted it. Recently, during a visit to that country by India’s former chief election commissioner S Y Quraishi, Gowher Rizvi, international affairs adviser to the Bangladeshi prime minister reminded that the Election Commission has to be strengthened rather than holding elections under a caretaker government.
“Focus should be on building a credible Election Commission like the one in India. What makes an EC effective is its statutory powers and permanence,” Rizvi said. Quraishi claimed that use of ‘muscle power’ in the world’s largest human event where 814.5 million voters have to be physically reached to ensure their franchise is now a thing of the past. Quraishi went on the say that the EC in India is ‘extra harsh’ on the party in power as elections are held under it. This helps to retain neutrality and credibility. In another event attended by Quraishi, the former Indian CEC expressed concern with the large number of MPs elected unopposed in Bangladesh.
As many as 153 MPs were elected unopposed in the general elections in Bangladesh. “Something like this has never happened in India. Some MPs do win unopposed. There is nothing wrong with this. However, if a large number of MPs were to be elected unopposed, the EC would have to think what to do. There is nothing undemocratic with people boycotting elections. Nobody should be forced to cast their votes,” he said, expressing concern over the use of money power and criminalization of politics.
That Bangladesh is looking forward to signing the Teesta water-sharing agreement was made clear by water resources minister Anisul Islam Mahmud during an interview to the Bangladeshi media. “The Indian PM Manmohan Singh had planned to sign the treaty during his visit to Bangladesh. He couldn’t do so due to internal problems in India. The Boro acreage in the Teesta river basin has declined due to water shortage. I believe that we can sign a treaty after bilateral talks with the Indian government,” he said.