Bdnews24.com reported on July 4 that Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh called Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at her Ganabhaban phone around 8pm Bangladesh time today to confirm his visit to Bangladesh in September 6-7.
As Bdnews24.com reported, “During the phone call around 8pm when Hasina was at her official home Ganabhaban, Singh praised her leadership, and said he was sure his Sept 6-7 visit would be a historic one, press secretary Abul Kalam Azad said. Azad did not say whether the two prime ministers discussed Singh’s controversial Bangladesh remarks on Wednesday.”
On June 29, Manmohan Singh had said that despite India having good relations with Bangladesh, “we must reckon that at least 25 per cent of the population of Bangladesh swear by the Jamaat-e-Islami and they are very anti-Indian, and they are in the clutches, many times, of the ISI (of Pakistan). So, the political landscape in Bangladesh can change at any time. We do not know what these terrorist elements, who have a hold on the Jamaat-i-Islami elements in Bangladesh, can be up to.”
Although the Prime Minister’s Office later withdrew those remarks explaining they were “off the record”, Bangladesh has already summoned Rajit Mitter, India’s high commissioner to Bangladesh, to explain the PM’s remarks against Bangladeshis, according to media reports.
The Daily Star in an editorial immediately after the Indian PM’s comments wrote, “Dr Manmohan Singh’s comments show a lack of understanding of Bangladesh. These also demonstrate a lack of confidence in the government and the stability of our political system. These have now been termed as off-the-record comments and not meant to be judgmental. Notwithstanding the deliberate damage control, we have to point out that there exists a serious lack of understanding on India’s part about the reality in Bangladesh. There is a lot to learn from the Indian PM’s remarks, even it were off-the-record; perhaps more so because they were off-the-record.”
The Hindustan Times also published opinions of other ruling party, opposition leaders and former foreign ministers of Bangladesh.
Singh’s comments which came weeks before the Indian external affairs minister S M Krishna’s visit to Bangladesh in July 6-8 and Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s visit around July 25, according to Business Standard in India, has complicated the ties between the two countries.
The relations between the two countries were looking up as India had offered a $1 billion credit to Bangladesh to improve it’s infrastructure with most of its major investors investing into Bangladesh.
Furthermore, there are even chances that a transit between India, Bangladesh and other countries in the region will bolster regional trade.