What did BNP leaders say to Indian think-tank VIF?

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Vivekananda International Foundation (VIF) is one of the three think-tanks, with which the BNP leaders had interactions on different issues

The latest visit to India by three senior leaders of Bangladesh’s out-of-parliament opposition, BNP, has created a buzz in both local and international media.

The three leaders– BNP Standing Committee Member Amir Khosru Mahmud Chowdhury, Vice Chairman Abdul Awal Mintoo, and International Affairs Secretary Humayun Kabir– visited the neighbouring country on June 3-10.

They held meetings with three well-known Indian think-tanks on India-Bangladesh relationship, ongoing political situation in the country, and the parliamentary election scheduled to be held at the end of this year.

BNP leader Amir Khosru Mahmud Chowdhury told the Dhaka Tribune that the think-tanks organized the meetings with them.

“Think tanks of different countries organize such interactions with other countries where they have trade relations. They invite both ruling and opposition parties of those countries, and ours was one such visit,” he said.

“We have briefed them on our party and the current political situation of Bangladesh, but we have not sought their intervention in the country’s internal matter,” said the BNP leader.

Vivekananda International Foundation (VIF) is one of the three think-tanks, with which the BNP leaders had interactions on different issues.

The Dhaka Tribune approached VIF to find out what was actually on the table at the meetings.

A VIF spokesperson said BNP told them that India, as an important neighbour, can play a crucial role in creating a positive atmosphere in Bangladesh.

“We as an independent think-tank have always hosted a wide number of guests from abroad and especially from the near neighbourhood irrespective of their political allegiance or affiliation. We at VIF, have always welcomed discussions on any subject that is relevant to our research mandate. Given India’s close ties with Bangladesh any interactions with speakers from Bangladesh have always been of interest and benefit to our scholars at the institute,” VIF Senior Fellow Sreeradha Datta said.

According to her, the discussions covered bilateral issues, and it was attended not only by their in-house scholars and members but also a group of experts from the strategic community and the academia.

The meeting with BNP leader Amir Khosru Mahmud Chowdhury was held at the VIF office on June 8, 2018.

At the roundtable, VIF Director Arvind Gupta briefly referred to the remarkable progress made by Bangladesh in social and economic sectors and the significant all-round improvement in Bangladesh-India relations over the last decade.

He then asked Amir Khosru Mahmud Chowdhury to give his assessment of the political situation of Bangladesh, particularly in the context of the upcoming general elections.

Khosru highlighted sharp political polarization prevailing among the two major parties which are yet to find any common ground to facilitate fully participatory elections.

The BNP leader hoped that an enabling situation would be created to ensure free and fair elections.

The discussion, participated by leading experts, including former diplomats, analysts and members of the security agencies, focused on the need to ensure continued cooperation between the two governments, in a wide range of mutually beneficial initiatives.

The speakers said the perception that BNP still remained anti-India, needs to be addressed.

They said high level statements would help change this negative perception. India and Bangladesh as friendly neighbours have both bilateral and regional goals to achieve together.

The BNP leaders assured the audience that those perceptions were ‘a thing of the past’ and have no place in today’s politics and policies.

Source: Dhaka Tribune.

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