Singh hails Hasinas win in Bdesh

Written by Political Bureau | New Delhi | Updated: Dec 31 2008, 07:17am hrs
India on Tuesday described the landslide victory of the Awami League-led grand alliance in the 9th parliamentary elections in Bangladesh as historic and expressed enthusiasm to work closely with the newly elected government.

Prime minister Manmohan Singh hailing the return of democracy in Bangladesh after nearly two years, congratulated Sheikh Hasina whose party won a landslide victory in the elections, and expressed hope about strengthening bilateral ties in the years ahead. Singh called Sheikh Hasina on Tuesday morning, a statement from the Prime Ministers Office said here.

Referring to the large turnout of voters in Bangladesh, New Delhi termed the election a resounding victory for democracy. India and Bangladesh share common values, a commitment to democracy and a multi-faceted historical relationship, in every field of human endeavour, external affairs ministry spokesperson Vishnu Prakash said.

With terrorism in the region a pressing concern, specially after the Mumbai attacks, the victory of Sheikh Hasina has brought some comfort to New Delhi as she took some tough steps against the anti-India militant groups when she was in power in the mid-1990s. In contrast, there was a sharp spike in militancy and Islamic fundamentalism in Bangladesh during Khaleda Zias tenure.

Former premier Sheikh Hasinas alliance defeated her archrival and former prime minister Khaleda Zias Bangladesh Nationalist Party-led four-party grouping in Mondays elections that took place after nearly two years of army-backed rule in Dhaka. The grand alliance bagged 258 seats, which included 229 seats by Awami League, in the 300-seat parliament, the Election Commission said in Dhaka. The 61-year-old Sheikh Hasina, whose father Sheikh Mujibur Rahman led the nation to independence, returned to power after spending months in custody on murder and corruption charges.

Bangladeshs military-backed caretaker government will transfer power to the victors of the Monday poll in a week, a senior official said in Dhaka on Tuesday.

Hasina and Zia represent two competing political legacies and have dominated the Bangladesh political scene since the 1980s. While Zia ruled for two terms - 1991-96 and 2001-06 - Hasina ruled during the intervening period.

Both the women contenders, as also the caretaker government and the Election Commission tasked to conduct a free and fair poll, on Monday had expressed satisfaction with the conduct of the poll. The international observers, among them the European Union (EU), also testified to a fair poll that saw an estimated 70 % percent turnout of the 80 million electorate.