KOLKATA (TIP): A day after reports of serious concern expressed in Dhaka’s corridors of power over BJP’s prime ministerial nominee Narendra Modi’s remark that his government would pack off illegal Bangladeshis to that country, there was growing acceptance in Dhaka that what Modi had said was nothing but electoral rhetoric.

Senior Awami League politician and former Railway Minister of Bangladesh, Suranjit Sengupta, told TOI from Dhaka, “Modi’s statement should be taken in the context of elections in India. He (Modi) was playing the infiltrator card, just as many here play the ‘India card’ during elections. Nothing should be read into his statement. There is no need for any concern and we are not attaching importance to what Modi said.”

Sengupta also said Indo-Bangla ties have become deeply entrenched and can easily resist all pulls and pressures. “Irrespective of which party comes to power in India, relations between the two countries will continue to be close,” he said. Foreign policy experts and sources close to the establishment in Bangladesh told TOI that such statements made with an eye on votes is part of election campaigns and do not cause any ripple.

They suggested politicians on both sides of the border make many such statements, but once in office, they stick to established practices and don’t disturb bilateral ties. Acclaimed filmmaker and author Shahriar Kabir told TOI from Dhaka that the feeling in that country is that Modi may have made the statement to garner votes.

“Everybody understands that Modi said that just to make himself popular with a section of the electorate,” said Kabir, a leading Bangladeshi intellectual. Kabir also said that a couple of days ago, at two back-to-back seminars held in Dhaka on Indo-Bangla ties, a number of Indian intellectuals, civil society leaders and foreign policy experts assured the Bangladeshi side there was no need to be alarmed about Modi’s statement.

“In fact, even those perceived to be close to the BJP said Modi’s statement was with an eye on the polls and if he were to become the prime minister, he would never do any such thing, said Kabir. Monaem Sarkar, former Awami League ideologue, said Modi would never attempt to carry out his rhetoric. “What he said is part of his campaign. Politicians in both Bangladesh and India say a lot of things to come to power, but once they assume office, they behave soberly,” Sarkar said.