Bangladesh sends subtle message to BJP by lauding TMC for 'upholding religious harmony'
Dhaka subtly sent out a message to the Bharatiya Janata Party's government in New Delhi as Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's government lauded the Trinamool Congress supremo and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee for upholding the principle of religious harmony in the state.
After her landslide victory in the state assembly elections, Banerjee received a congratulatory letter from Bangladesh Foreign Minister A K Abdul Momen, who lauded her for upholding Bengal's long-cherished values - principle of religious harmony and brotherhood, which 'Bangabandhu' Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the founding father of the neighbouring nation espoused.
Momen's congratulatory letter to Banerjee apparently came with a subtle dig for the BJP, which the Trinamool Congress defeated in the just-concluded assembly elections in West Bengal. Banerjee and her Trinamool Congress had accused the BJP of pursuing a communal and divisive campaign to win the elections and come to power in the state.
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Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah led the BJP's poll-campaign in West Bengal.
The Trinamool Congress on several occasions blamed the BJP of making attempts for religious polarisation in the state in order to reap electoral dividends.
Shah's remark on infiltration from Bangladesh to India during electioneering in West Bengal emerged as the latest irritant in the relation between the two neighbours, with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's government in Dhaka conveying to New Delhi its displeasure over the statement. He told a news portal of West Bengal that poor people from Bangladesh infiltrated into India as they found not enough food for them in their own country. The union Home Minister made the statement amid his extensive campaigning for the BJP in West Bengal, where the saffron party made alleged influx of illegal migrants from Bangladesh to India a major poll-plank.
His comment, however, triggered sharp reaction from Momen. 'I would say his (Shah's) knowledge about Bangladesh is very limited,' said the Foreign Minister of Bangladesh.
This is not the first time that the remarks made by Home Minister of India upset the Bangladesh Government. His December 2019 statement about religious persecution of minority Hindus in Bangladesh had also irked Dhaka. He had made the statement while piloting the controversial; Citizenship (Amendment) Act through the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha. Hasina had then tacitly conveyed her displeasure to New Delhi as two of her ministers had cancelled proposed visits to India Momen had then termed Shah's remarks as 'unwarranted' and 'untrue'. Shah had in 2018 also compared people allegedly infiltrating from Bangladesh to India as 'termites'.
Even as he was on a visit to Bangladesh on March 26-27, Modi left no stone unturned to woo the Matuas - a community that holds sway in several assembly constituencies in West Bengal. He not only visited and paid obeisance at a sacred shrine of the Matuas at Orakandi in Bangladesh, but also pledged to upgrade a local middle school for girls and build a new primary school. He eulogized the Hindu Vaishnavite sect's founder Harichand Thakur, who was born in a nearby village in 1812, but spent most of his life and died at Orakandi in 1878. He also recalled his meeting with the community's late matriarch, 'Boro Ma' Bina Pani Devi, at Thakur Nagar in West Bengal ahead of the Lok Sabha elections in 2019.