India and the United States have come out with diametrically opposite reactions to the elections in Bangladesh that have resulted in a victory for incumbent Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s party, the Awami League, and non-participation by the main Opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party and several other parties.
India said the elections, held on Sunday, were a “constitutional requirement” and part of the internal and constitutional process of Bangladesh. On the other hand, the U.S. expressed disappointment as more than half the seats went uncontested and most of the remainder offered “only token opposition.” The results “do not appear to credibly express the will of the Bangladeshi people,” said the U.S. State Department in a statement.
Officials of the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) pointed out that Ms. Hasina had done everything according to the book and made reconciliatory offers to the Opposition that were turned down. There was nothing unconstitutional or illegal about the elections, they added.
The U.S., however, made out a case for fresh elections and asked the Bangladesh government and the Opposition to engage in “immediate dialogue” for a more credible reflection of “the will of the Bangladeshi people.”
India left it to “the people of Bangladesh to decide their own future and choose their representatives in a manner that responds to their aspirations.” This reflects India’s traditional stand and its unhappiness with some western countries and non-governmental organisations for backing certain political formations. In an interview to The Hindu, External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid had emphasised this aspect by stating that, “while the U.S. is at some distance from Bangladesh, we are right next to it.”