Bangladesh’s opposition leader Khaleda Zia has accused Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina of “selling out” the country to India to translate into reality her “dream of staying in power for life”, hours after New Delhi and Dhaka signed 22 pacts in key sectors including defence.
“Hasina dreams of remaining in power for life. She has done many things for this. She kept nothing for the country, sold everything,” Zia, former prime minister and the chief of main opposition outside parliament Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) said in a party programme last night.
Zia’s comments came hours after Hasina, who is in India on a four-day visit, and her Indian counterpart Narendra Modi witnessed signing of 22 pacts in key sectors including defence and civil nuclear. Though the long-pending Teesta waters sharing agreement remained elusive, Modi conveyed his government’s commitment for an “early solution”. “It seems that she (Hasina) will sell the rest of the country… (but) the world history says no one could get away after selling a country,” she said.
After holding comprehensive talks with Hasina, Modi announced a new concessional Line of Credit of $4.5 billion for the neighbouring country and an additional assistance of USD 500 million to help its military procurement.
Zia, 71, and Hasina, 69, are known as the ‘Battling Begums’ for their bitter rivalry that has poisoned Bangladeshi politics for nearly three decades. Earlier yesterday, BNP termed signing of the defence deal an “extreme betrayal with people and the country” with the party’s spokesman Ruhul Kabir Rizvi claiming that the development will expose Bangladesh’s security system to India.
“Our security and existence is now at stake following signing of the MoUs,” the BNP spokesman said. Ruling party Awami League’s general secretary and Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader urged BNP not to make any comment without knowing details of the memorandums of understanding (MoUs) signed between India and Bangladesh.
“There is nothing in the deals which could be concealed as it is the age of technology,” the Minister said. Meanwhile, political analysts said BNP took the opportunity to make visible its presence in the political arena as its boycott of the 2014 elections largely eroded the moral of the party activists and supporters, even losing a chance of becoming a strong main opposition in Parliament.
Hasina last month accused BNP of pursuing a “double- policy” on India after it expressed negative speculations over possible deals to be signed during her India visit. “It was Khaleda Zia who gave an undertaking of selling gas to India and came to power in 2001 (sacrificing Bangladesh’s interest)… So anti-Indian words do not match in their mouth,” Hasina had told a function of her Awami League.
In the past, Hasina has criticised Zia for repeatedly seeking time from court appearance in graft cases, saying Zia lacked the courage to face courts as she was guilty deep down.
Graft charges have been brought against Zia in the Zia Charitable Trust case which accuses her of embezzling 31.5 million Bangladeshi Taka (USD 4 lakh).