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Jan 5 polls: India 'tried' to convince BNP

  • Published at 07:06 am July 1st, 2014

BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia has said India tried to convince the party to participate in the January 5 general election.

The former prime minister revealed the Indian effort in an exclusive interview with the Indian Express published Tuesday.

“The then Indian foreign secretary Sujatha Singh came here [before the election] and tried to convince us, but could not,” said Khaleda in response to a query.

She said they had told Sujatha Singh why they could not participate in the elections. “We are a political party, not an underground outfit, but if elections are not fair, there is no point taking part.”

The Awami League won a three-fourth majority in the January 5 election which was boycotted by the BNP. 154 MPs, out of 300 constituencies, were elected unoppsoed in that election.

Replying to a query about her meeting with India's new Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj, Khaleda said it was a very friendly meeting.

“She [Sushma] said efforts will be made to bring the border killings down to zero. She was receptive to our concerns on the unsettled bilateral issues,” said the BNP chief.

She also informed that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi invited her to visit India.

Khaleda disappointed?

The Indian Express asked Khaleda if she was disappointed that the previous Indian government did not back her during the elections?

Khaleda said: "Their foreign secretary [Sujatha Singh] came here, and said publicly that H M Ershad should participate, otherwise elections will not take place and the fundamentalists will come to power."

Khaleda also recalled Ershad's stand on January 5 election: “Ershad said openly that he will not contest. But later, through some way… I don’t know whether the Congress-led government played a role; many believe that [it did], since the foreign secretary said such things….”

'AL's illegitimacy exposed'

Awami League understands that they don’t have legitimacy in the country or outside, BNP chairperson claimed.

She said: “Awami League is telling us that you first recognise us as a legitimate government, then we will enter into a dialogue. So, their illegitimacy has been exposed….”

“I told Sushma that no country has witnessed an election in which 154 candidates have been elected unopposed, out of 300 in parliament. There could be 2, 4, 5… but 154? All the cabinet ministers have been elected unopposed."

"In Sheikh Hasina’s case, there was no contest, but they put up dummy candidates to show that there was a contest," Khaleda alleged.

Click to read the Indian Express interview