Khaleda's change of heart on India
Within a week of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit, BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia has made a U-turn on her recent stance on India after realising that she could cut no ice with Modi, BNP insiders said.
She has realised that her earlier statement to disclaim BNP's anti-India politics and her eager and warm welcome to Modi did not really leave any imprints on Indian mindset and she rather lost political credibility, they said.
Before Modi came, BNP spokesperson Asaduzzaman Ripon had repeatedly said the BNP had never done any anti-India politics. The BNP was also very eager to meet Modi and elated when the Indian premier agreed to it. After meeting Modi, Khaleda talked to an Indian weekly, The Sunday Guardian, and dismissed the idea that BNP holds an anti-India stance.
“Why should I be anti-Indian?” she had quipped to a question.
After remaining silent for a week on the visit and the following raft of deals on connectivity, Khaleda suddenly bared her mind. On Sunday night she said heavy Indian vehicles would run on Bangladesh roads without paying duty and this cannot be friendship. We, however, could not overlook the fact that her claim is distorted as Indian vehicles will be subjected to tariff according to the WTO rules.
She also fired her favourite "slavery" salvo when she said "friendship is good, but no one wants to make any friendship sacrificing one's own interests. It is friendship when it ensures equality, otherwise it becomes slavery".
Khaleda and her party had often played up this propaganda by alleging that the Awami League wants to make the country a "slave" of India.
Khaleda did not discuss things with any of her top leaders before making such a definitive comment.
“She did not talk to me or any of our senior leaders,” said a standing committee member of the party. “I know of one standing committee member who was surprised after reading her statement in newspapers. We are really baffled about her stance on India before and during Modi's visit and now.”
Another standing committee member said Khaleda should have consulted her senior party members before making such a policy statement, especially when she had earlier claimed the BNP is not an anti-India party.
Talking to The Daily Star, Sabihuddin Ahmed, adviser to the BNP chief, said, “The BNP chairperson made the statement keeping in view the country's interest. Our politics is not against India.”
Another BNP leader said Khaleda suddenly realised that by being friendly towards India she had lost the anti-Indian support of her voters and so quickly tried to recoup the lost ground.
Another source said she changed her mind on India as she thought her conversation with Modi was deliberately leaked to the media.