Is much going to change there due to Sheikh Hasina’s visit to India?
The selfie of Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and US President Joe Biden at the G20 conference held in India has become a topic of discussion in Bangladeshi politics.
Two days after this incident, French President Emmanuel Macron visited Dhaka.
Some people are seeing the picture of Biden smiling in the selfie with Sheikh Hasina as a sign of improvement in relations.
Some people are also raising the question whether the formal meeting at a conference and taking selfies is not a sign of change in America’s policies on the issue of Bangladesh elections.
The selfie of Hasina and Biden before the elections and the high-level visit of two superpowers Russia and France within a week are gaining importance in the political debate of Bangladesh.
The ruling party is putting forward these issues with importance on the question of international support towards the Bangladesh government.
What is the perception about Bangladesh in the world?
Awami League Joint General Secretary Mahboob-ul-Alam Hanif believes that these issues are being seen only as a positive attitude of the global community towards the Bangladesh government.
Hanif told BBC Bangla, “Overall, there is a positive perception about the Bangladesh government in the world. This is our success.”
He said that some misunderstanding had arisen about Bangladesh in the rest of the world. Hanif holds the activism of BNP and Jamaat-e-Islami responsible for this.
He says that the opposition has launched a campaign against the development and progress of the government through the appointment of lobbyists. Hanif believes that the perception of other countries towards Bangladesh is now changing.
At present, the ruling and opposition parties of Bangladesh have adopted a harsh attitude towards each other on the issue of elections. Apart from taking to the streets, both the parties are also seen to be active in garnering and promoting international support.
The opposition BNP is agitating for the resignation of the government and elections under a neutral government. BNP is also welcoming other measures including the visa policy announced by the US a few months ago.
The party considers the selfie of Sheikh Hasina and Biden as a common courtesy. His argument is that such selfies will have no role in changing America’s policy.
BNP Vice President Abdul Awal Mintu told BBC Bangla that America has its own policy. He has prepared and implemented that policy after a lot of thinking. I don’t think any selfie or Biden’s words will change that.
He said, “Biden certainly has his own influence. But Biden or the US President will not say or do anything that will change that policy. Is it Bangladesh that runs on the words of one person?”
What will happen with selfie?
America and western countries are continuously putting pressure on the Bangladesh government to conduct fair elections.
Are the pictures of global leaders getting close to the Bangladeshi Prime Minister during the G20 summit in India a sign of a change in their attitude?
Ali Riaz, professor of political science at Illinois State University in America, does not see any sign of change.
Riyaz says, “There has been tension in the relations between the ruling party of Bangladesh and America on the issue of human rights and conducting fair elections. America has been repeatedly talking about free and fair elections. Till now there has been no reaction in its attitude. There has been change and there is no sign of it.”
Bilateral visit to France and Russia
The Foreign Minister of Russia and the President of France visited Dhaka before and after the G20 summit held in India respectively. Usually such a high-profile visit at the end of a government’s tenure is out of the ordinary.
During the visit of the French President, the issue of purchasing 10 aircraft for Bangladesh Airlines and cooperation with a French company for the construction of a second satellite was raised.
On the other hand, during the visit of the Russian Foreign Minister, discussions were held on strengthening mutual relations and the alternative currency system of the dollar.
Professor Ali Riaz believes that commercial interests are now more attached to such high-level visits. In his opinion, Russia currently wants to increase the number of its friends.
He sees Bangladesh as his friend. The reason for this is that Russia has commercial interests with Bangladesh through the Rangpur power project.
Riyaz says, “President Macron’s visit was basically a commercial tour. At present, the ruling government in Bangladesh is in a weak position and under pressure. In such a situation, international powers will try to get maximum commercial facilities.”
Attitude of BNP and Awami League on foreign pressure
BNP Vice President Abdul Awal Mintu says that Russia and France are not important from the election point of view.
America’s policy will be an important regulator of change. The pressure from America was initially internal. But now it has become public.
Now he has made it clear that in the future elections, restrictions will be imposed on those who work against free and fair elections. The scope of this ban includes all areas including police, judges and civil society.
On the other hand, the ruling party is not ready to give special attention to international pressure on the election issue. Awami League has also adopted a strict stance on conducting elections as per the Constitution.
Awami League leader Mehboob-ul-Alam Hanafi claimed that his views regarding free and fair elections are similar to the views of different countries. He says, “Honorable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina herself has repeatedly said that the upcoming Parliament elections will be free, fair and neutral. We are determined for this.”
This post originally appeared on www.bbc.com