India turns focus on Dhaka as Bangladesh gears up for elections

Published: April 04, 2018 12:35:39 | Updated: April 05, 2018 10:37:53


NEW DELHI: With elections looming in Bangladesh, Dhaka has taken centre-stage in India's neighbourhood strategy.

While national security adviser Ajit Doval travelled to Bangladesh last week to participate in a meeting of NSAs of the BIMSTEC group of countries, foreign secretary Vijay Gokhale will be in Dhaka on his first trip on April 9 to focus on bilateral relations, according to a report published on https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com.

Doval, during his three-day visit to Dhaka, met officials and leaders from across the political spectrum besides calling on Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

After two consecutive terms, the Awami League government is seen as facing significant anti-incumbency sentiment.

In these years, India and Bangladesh have improved relations to an extent that Dhaka is now arguably New Delhi's closest strategic partner in this region, despite China increasing its presence in the country.

India and Bangladesh now work closely on the issue of terrorism and radicalisation, particularly limiting the pernicious role of Pakistan's ISI and terror groups.

However, two developments may upset the equations - the Rohingya crisis and the possibility of a Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) victory in the elections.

While the Rohingya issue is at one level a humanitarian one, at another level it's a potentially dangerous issue with reports of increasing radicalisation of the refugees.

While Hasina has been proactive in curbing Islamic militancy, BNP is likely to be more tolerant of extremist ideologies. That could have serious regional security implications for India.

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