Bangladesh opposition leader arrives in New Delhi

Leader of the opposition in Bangladesh and two-times Prime Minister, Begum Khaleda Zia arrived in New Delhi on a seven-day visit at the invitation of the Indian government. Earlier on the day, she started from Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport in a flight of Jet Airways. Begum Zia will be meeting the Indian President Pranab Mukherjee today in the afternoon. She will also call on the Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh on October 29 as well as Indian National Congress leader Sonia Gandhi and leader of the opposition Susma Swaraj. Begum Khaleda Zia will also visit the holy shrine of Khwaja Mouniddin Chishti in Ajmer.

Political analysts in Bangladesh are seeing the India visit of the Bangladesh opposition leader as “very significant”, as it is taking place few months before the next general election, which is expected to be held in March 2014. The current government led by Bangladesh Awami League will finish its tenure on December 8, 2013. The Indian government has termed the visit as part of its engagement with the democratic and multi-party polity of Bangladesh. The last India visit of Begum Khaleda Zia took place in 2006, when she was the Prime Minister of Bangladesh. During this visit, the Bangladeshi leader of the opposition and chairperson of Bangladesh Nationalist Party would discuss various bilateral issues with India, including the sharing of water, killing by Indian border security forces along the Bangladesh-India border, expansion of trade etc.

Indian political analysts also are seeing the visit of Khaleda Zia as “significant” when the Indian intelligence agencies have clearly indicated huge defeat of the ruling Bangladesh Awami League led Islamist-leftist coalitions in the next general election.

While the BNP has always been known for its anti-India stance, New Delhi knows that it is imperative to at least make an attempt to mend fences with her in the run up to the general elections slated to be held next year. The BNP, known for its links with Pakistan, has of late been looking to make new friends in the region. On the other hand, India is also interested in mending fences with Bangladesh Nationalist Party, keeping the 2014 general election into consideration, as none of the ruling parties were re-elected in any of the past elections in Bangladesh.

A nine-member BNP delegation is accompanying Khaleda during the visit. The delegation includes Standing Committee Member Tariqul Islam, her Advisors Riaz Rahman, Sabih Uddin Ahmed, Vice Chairman Shamser Mobin Chowdhury, former MPs Khaleda Rabbani, Mosaddek Ali Falu, her Press Secretary Maruf Kamal Khan, Private Secretary Saleh Ahmed and photographer Nuru Uddin Ahmed.

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