Indian ruling party National Secretary General Ram Madhav on Friday highly appreciated Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s endeavour to protect the democratic institutions, saying democratic freedom does not mean burning buses and public property.“The way Prime Minister Hasina is handling the situation and trying very hard to protect the democratic institutions is quite laudable. We extend our wholehearted support to her endeavour to uphold democratic values,” said the BJP leader while addressing a function in the city.
The BJP leader said democracy means freedom but their freedom is not absolute rather their freedom is a freedom within the framework of their constitution.
“It (freedom) does not give us license to say that we’ll destroy the constitutional system… we’ll destroy the democracy. It does not give us permission to burn buses, burn public property and engage in violence,” Madhav said.
Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali spoke at the inaugural session of the event as the chief guest.
Friends of Bangladesh in collaboration with Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Bangladesh and India Foundation (Delhi) are hosting the two-day dialogue, the seventh round of India-Bangladesh Friendship Dialogue, with the theme ‘Ground Rules of a New Paradigm’ at Pan Pacific Hotel Sonargaon.
The BJP leader who also looks after party’s political affairs in the Northeast, including Assam, said peace is an ‘absolute necessity’ to protect democracy.
He mentioned that what he said is not just to ‘please’ anybody rather it is their conviction and both Bangladesh and India have very ‘well-drafted’ constitutions. “We need to protect and uphold the constitution.”
Describing Bangladesh-India relations connected in many ways, the BJP leader said, “In the last four decades, I think you have realised that although we are a big country we are not big brother.”
He described Bangladesh and India as partners in ‘progress, peace and partners in prosperity’. “The idea of neighbourhood is not rivalry but partner.”
Quoting the ‘beautiful phrase’ of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi which he made during his Bangladesh visit – India, Bangladesh not just ‘Pass Pass’ but ‘Saath Saath’, Madhav said, “Our growth and development stories should be complimentary. We should grow together and we should work together.”
Describing Bangladesh as a very ‘special beloved neighbour’, he said both Bangladesh and India has a relationship which is growing fast. “It’s a great connecting factor – in all ways – sports, culture and political.”
He also said both the countries enjoy the game of cricket and mentioned that playing with Bangladesh is a great joy, not war. “We look forward to see a good game on Sunday.”
On trade issues, the BJP leader said they take every care to make sure that ‘no injustice’ is ever done against Bangladesh.
Madhav also talked about cooperation in energy sector and assured Bangladesh of continued support to achieve its goal in meeting energy need.
He termed the settlement of the Land Boundary Agreement (LBA) as a great achievement and mentioned that their Prime Minister took the bold decision.
He said they are happy that under the leaderships of two Prime Ministers – Hasina and Modi – they have been able to make significant progress in various areas.
State Minister for Foreign Affairs M Shahriar Alam, Indian High Commissioner in Dhaka Harsha Bardhan Singla, Vice President of Friends of Bangladesh (India Chapter) Satyam Roy Chowdhury and coordinator of Friends of Bangladesh ASM Shamsul Arefin also spoke at the inaugural session.
“Water a Sensitive Issue”
Foreign Minister Mahmood Ali said water is a very sensitive and important issue in Bangladesh-India relations. “While some issues remain to be resolved in this sector, we are hopeful that in the spirit of good neighbourliness, those would be resolved soon.”
He said Bangladesh is seeking India’s participation in its proposed Ganges Barrage project on the Padma River. “We have also agreed to sharing the best practices for a basin-wide management of common rivers which is expected to pave the way for full-fledged basin-wide management.”
Mahmood Ali said this approach holds the key to comprehensively address the water-related issues in the region.
State Minister Shahriar Alam said Bangladesh is looking up to the leadership of Prime Minister Modi for immediate signing of the Teesta Water-sharing Agreement as agreed upon between the two governments in January 2011.
“We’re also expecting that India would indicate its willingness to join our proposed Ganges Barrage on the river Padma in Bangladesh,” he said.
The State Minister said security cooperation has been the high point of Bangladesh-India relations in the recent years.
“Bangladesh has fully delivered by undertaking specific measures to address India’s security concerns,” he said.
With more and more dedicated institutional mechanisms being put in place, Bangladesh and India are having better, targeted and coordinated action in various sectors of security, said the State Minister adding that the cooperation would continue.
Indian High Commissioner said the year 2015, in many ways, was a watershed year in Bangladesh-India bilateral relations. “Both our countries have decided to attach the highest priority to keeping the strong momentum in our bilateral relations going.”
The diplomat said the bilateral cooperation between the two countries is based on a ‘win-win’ formula for both countries based on a mutuality of interests.
He said there is now an ‘unshakable momentum’ in the development of cooperative relations between India and Bangladesh across a very wide spectrum of areas.
“People-to-people contact between the two countries is the driving force for this relationship,” he said.
Chairman of Parliamentary Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs Ministry Dr Dipu Moni, MJ Akbar, MP, former Indian High Commissioner to Bangladesh Veena Seekri, Director of India Foundation Alok Bansal and Swapan Dasgupta were also present.