Now ‘India Out’ in Bangladesh?

   By Vijay Darda | 1-04-2024

China’s vicious diplomacy may not have succeeded but India’s counterattack is essential

When ‘India Out’ slogans were suddenly heard last month in rapidly progressing Bangladesh, it was natural for everyone to be shocked. It looked like the repetition of the recent anti-India rhetoric being harped upon by the President of Maldives Mohamed Muizzu. So how and when did it start in Bangladesh? This unexpected turn of events in Bangladesh has raised questions about its origin and motive. Is it solely driven by the opposition parties within Bangladesh or China is orchestrating it? Observers who closely monitor China’s actions believe that China is involved in this entire incident. Fortunately, China’s diplomatic efforts have not been successful due to India’s skill in managing relationships. Our neighbouring countries, who have fallen victim to China’s enticing tactics, know quite well that India is their only trustworthy partner.

The Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), the main opposition party in Bangladesh, feels that India supports the ruling Awami League. It is evident that India shares a strong relationship with the Prime Minister of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina, who leads the Awami League. Under her leadership, Bangladesh has made significant progress and implemented a zero-tolerance policy towards extremism. This has resulted in the execution of terrorists associated with groups such as the Islamic State, Al-Qaeda affiliate Hizb ut-Tahrir (HuT), Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh and Ansarullah Bangla Team.

The opposition parties and these terrorist organisations in Bangladesh have proved beneficial to China. This has led to the outbreak of the ‘India Out’ campaign in Bangladesh, which is echoing on social media. There are discussions about boycotting Indian products, but the government of Sheikh Hasina made it clear that the true intention behind such calls is to disrupt the stability of the Bangladeshi market. If the market in Bangladesh becomes unstable, China will undoubtedly capitalise on the situation. By doing so, Bangladesh will be ensnared just like Pakistan, Sri Lanka and now Maldives. It has already soured the once cordial relations between Nepal and India. It has also attempted to distance Myanmar and Bhutan from India, but China has not been able to achieve much success due to the trust neighbouring countries have in India. Now China is trying to alienate Bangladesh from us. If we examine the geographical map, our northeastern states are positioned between Chinese occupied Tibet and Bangladesh. In these states, China is doing everything to create disturbance by supplying weapons and drugs to the terrorist groups. It wants India’s relations with Bangladesh to turn bitter so that Bangladesh falls into its lap. Fortunately, Sheikh Hasina comprehends this situation quite well. She appears to be resolute in the face of China’s every manoeuvre. She has gone to the extent of stating that the opposition leaders’ seriousness to boycott Indian products will be truly demonstrated only when they burn their wives’ Indian sarees.

In any case, it is widely known that the opposition party in Bangladesh, BNP, has consistently held an anti-India stance. BNP actively participated in the violent protests that took place in Bangladesh during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Dhaka, which marked the golden jubilee of Bangladesh’s independence. BNP leader Khaleda Zia is also seen playing a double game. On one hand, the BNP opposes India and on the other, a faction within the party also advocates for maintaining good relations with India. However, it is the fundamentalists who hold the upper hand within the BNP. It is believed that Khaleda Zia is the mastermind behind this strategy. The question that arises is whether there has been any tacit agreement between Khaleda Zia and China! Nevertheless, China did not support her during the last elections as the United States stood in support of Zia. It is possible that China was hoping to sway Sheikh Hasina to their side and gain her support.

Notably, China has realised that it cannot overpower India through military might. China has gained a clear understanding of India’s stance through India’s strong response in Galwan. China aims to weaken India by any means as it is concerned that India may surpass it as an economic powerhouse in the future. China maintained an average economic growth rate of 9 per cent since opening up to the global economy in 1978, but the Covid pandemic brought it down to 2.2 per cent. For some time post pandemic, China bounced back to a growth rate of 8 per cent. But in 2023, it could only achieve a growth rate of 5.2 per cent, while India’s economy grew at a rate of 7.2 per cent during the same period. China is concerned about India’s rapid pace of growth. There is an old proverb that states, “If you cannot draw your line big, erase someone else’s.” This seems to be China’s strategy as it is trying to impede India’s development by creating disturbance. However, India is aware of China’s intentions and knows how to respond effectively. India’s progress cannot be stopped, as it has the capability to counter any obstacle that comes its way..

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