While Bangladesh’s two important neighbours, India and China, have put their faith in the Awami League government of Sheikh Hasina to hold peaceful, free and fair elections, the US has been the sole critical voice, questioning the repressive and anti-opposition measures of the government.
Sreeradha Datta, Professor, Jindal School of International Affairs, O.P Jindal Global University, Sonipat, Haryana, India; Non-Resident Senior Fellow at ISAS-NUS, Singapore.
Pragmatism and self-interest influence the Indian attitude while the US sees the Bangladesh elections through the lens of democracy and human rights.
Despite their burgeoning strategic partnership, India and the US have divergent positions on the impending general election in Bangladesh.
Their virtually polar opposite positions have been a subject of discussion in the region and in Bangladesh itself.
The Bangladesh government has been trying to portray the January 7 general elections as multi-party and inclusive.
A closer look shows an entirely different picture.
The electoral landscape of Bangladesh is defined by two large political parties – the Awami League (AL) and the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP).
The BNP, along with 14 smaller parties, is boycotting the elections.
These parties believe that under the AL government, seeking a fourth consecutive term in office, there is no possibility of free and fair polls. The near complete absence of the opposition from the elections severely undermines the credibility of the democratic process.
The international community, however, is divided in its response to the one-sided election.
Bangladesh’s two important neighbours, India and China, have put their faith in the AL government of Sheikh Hasina to hold peaceful, free and fair elections.
The US has been the sole critical voice, questioning the repressive and anti-opposition measures of the government. It has repeatedly called for democratic norms and standards to be respected in Bangladesh.
Published in: NDTV
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