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Sheikh Hasina’s

The re-election of Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for a third consecutive term with a landslide victory in the general elections, is strategically desirable for India. However, New Delhi must caution and refrain from celebrations while the opposition, Bangladesh National Party (BNP) has levelled allegations of widespread rigging.

Hasina’s Awami League, a secular and liberal party in Bangladesh, has historically been an ally of India. Under the Hasina government in the last two terms, Dhaka has remained sensitive to India’s concerns about the northeast militancy fostered by ISI-backed Islamists operating from Bangladesh during the opposition BNP-Jamaat regime. The militancy in the region including Tripura and Meghalaya has declined considerably ever since a crackdown by Hasina. After the Awami League government arrested the leaders of the factions of the ULFA and the NDFB and handed them over to India, the window for talks between insurgents and New Delhi has opened up. Overall, Hasina’s tough stance against Islamist terrorism is vital to India’s security interests in the northeast.

However, India cannot choose to overlook the allegations of electoral fraud, intimidation and abuse that the media and human rights organizations of the West have been highlighting. It is clear that Hasina’s secular policies and decimation of religious radicals, have the potential to invite retaliation with vengeance if democracy weakens and democratic institutions are eroded in Bangladesh. Such a scenario will have serious ramifications for India’s security too. It is in Bangladesh’s interests that Prime Minister Hasina does everything to restore faith of media and the West in her leadership.



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