Top Awami League leader denies Indian interference in Bangladesh polls

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Dhaka, March 16 (IANS) A top leader from Bangladesh’s ruling Awami League on Saturday ruled out allegations of Indian interference in the country’s election, months after the crucial vote in January this year saw Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina storming back to power.

Awami League General Secretary, Obaidul Quader, came out strongly in support of his South Asian neighbour at the biennial conference, which was inaugurated by Indian High Commissioner, Pranay Kumar Verma.

“We conducted our elections. India did not interfere. Various countries’ ambassadors played their roles, but India did not. They (India) said, ‘Let Bangladesh decide Bangladesh’s election’,” Quader was quoted as saying in The Daily Star.

“Many powers in the world wanted to play an unfavourable game here. India stood strongly by our side,” he added.

As Sheikh Hasina secured a fourth term in the 12th Parliamentary election that was largely boycotted by the Opposition, a massive “India Out” campaign was launched in the country, alleging Indian interference in Bangladesh elections.

Opposition and dissidents alleged that Awami League, led by PM Sheikh Hasina, won the past three general elections with the support of India with which the party traditionally has had favourable ties.

In November last year, India said that it “respects the democratic process in Bangladesh”, just after an India-US bilateral meeting in the same month, which saw discussions on the Bangladesh election.

Describing Bangladesh as “a close friend and partner” of India, Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra said in a press conference in Delhi that “when it comes to developments in Bangladesh, elections in Bangladesh, it is their domestic matter. It is for the people of Bangladesh to decide their future”.

The country’s main opposition Bangladesh National Party, led by former PM Khaleda Zia, refused to accept the election verdict.

In the build-up to the election, there were more than 12 arson attacks and massive protests by tens of thousands of opposition party supporters, leading to detention and arrests.



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