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BJP leader’s dangerous affront to Bangladesh

22 April 2014

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New Age (Bangladesh) 21 April 2014

Editorial: BJP leader’s dangerous affront to Bangladesh

SUBRAMANIAN Swamy’s ‘estimate’ that ‘one-third of Bangladesh’s population lives in India’ and suggestion that Bangladesh ‘should compensate by giving land to India’ if it ‘does not agree to take back its people’ may be, as reported in New Age on Sunday, the senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader’s own view, and not his party’s, but are extremely incendiary. Bangladesh-bashing, especially on ‘illegal infiltration’, seems to have become a significant part of election-time rhetoric, particularly by the ultra-rightist BJP. Suffice to say, such rhetoric is generally one-sided and packed with manufactured statistics, if not blatant lies.

First and foremost, while politicians like Subramanian often refers to illegal Bangladeshi immigrants in India with bloated ‘estimates’, they conveniently ignore the fact that a sizeable section of some 500,000 Indians who work in Bangladesh and sent home $3.17 billion in 2012, which, according to Silicon India (May 21, 2013), makes Bangladesh the fifth largest source of remittance earning for India in the world after the United Arab Emirates, the United States, Saudi Arabia and the United Kingdom, are illegal. Moreover, the Indian political establishments maintain crafted silence over New Delhi’s refusal to hand over enclaves that are lawfully Bangladesh’s; it has, as yet, not even ratified the land boundary agreement that India signed with Bangladesh in 1974.

Most importantly, such hateful remarks against people of ‘a particular religion’ risks reopening the historic wound that was inflicted on East Bengal at the time of the partition of India in 1947, thanks to the selfishness of the Indian ruling elite and the indifference of their West Pakistan-based counterparts. Bangladesh’s map would have been significantly different, with the inclusion of places like Murshidabad of West Bengal and Karimganj of Assam, if the Congress and Muslim League leadership of the time had remained true to the geographical division of the subcontinent on the basis of Hindu- and Muslim-majority areas. History also tells us that Lahore was given to West Pakistan, in the process, depriving East Bengal of the Kolkata city.

What the Indian political establishments apparently do not realise that such election-time political rhetoric by people like Subramanian could give rise to communalistic reaction on this side of the border. If it so happens, and especially given the general displeasure of the Muslim population in India, such sentiment could even spread in some Indian areas bordering Bangladesh like wildfire.

Hence, the Indian political elite would be well-advised to rein in their tongue-lashing leaders like Subramanian because such hateful words may win them some votes but the price could be serious disruption in both political and communal harmony in the region.


The above article from New Age is reproduced here for educational and non commercial use