After Padma bridge milestone, Sheikh Hasina faces challenges at home and abroad

After Padma bridge milestone, Sheikh Hasina faces challenges at home and abroad


Amid rising assaults on progressives and prevailing spiritual sensitivities, the PM is more likely to search India’s assist and Opposition BNP’s participation to rework Bangladesh right into a extra advanced democracy

The festivities related to the Rath Yatra commenced in Bangladesh on Saturday, with a big rally in Dhaka and related programmes in several components of the nation.

The heavily-guarded Rath Yatra occasions are being held following the pandemic-induced hiatus of two years and the Durga puja assaults of final October. The event was mildly dented by an assault on a number one playwright Dr. Ratan Siddique, who was roughed up by a gathering outdoors his home within the northern a part of the capital Dhaka.

The crowd accused Mr. Siddique of being an “atheist” and raised pro-Pakistan slogans earlier than the police arrived on the scene and resolved the tense scenario. The incident introduced again recollections of assaults in opposition to atheist bloggers throughout 2013-16. Bangladesh Udichi Shilpigoshthi, the biggest progressive cultural organisation of the nation, protested in opposition to the assault as Dr. Siddique is a famous member of the organisation.

The nine-day lengthy Rath Yatra festivity by the minority Hindu group is a major symbolic occasion because the minorities of Bangladesh represent a stable assist base for Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina-led Awami League authorities. The celebration and the mob assault on Dr. Siddique level to the political challenges that PM Hasina must cope with within the coming months.

Sheikh Hasina’s 13-year-old authorities reached a significant milestone with the inauguration of the Padma Multipurpose Bridge on June 25. The self-financed bridge — constructed by the China Major Bridge Engineering Co. Ltd — is the largest connectivity mission for the nation and has emerged as an indication of the new-found financial confidence of Bangladesh on the earth stage. The well timed completion of the mission comes forward of her go to to the U.S. to attend the UN General Assembly and different world capitals in September.

The go to to the United Nations will spotlight Prime Minister Hasina’s agenda within the multilateral venues the place she requires main powers to point out better appreciation of the difficulties that her authorities has been dealing with in coping with the Rohingya disaster since 2017. In current months, there have been silent hints that Bangladesh might require India’s assist additionally as a fellow democracy from South Asia — in coping with critics of her authorities.

Call for ‘credible’ election

This requirement was felt on June 8 when the U.S. Ambassador to Bangladesh Peter Haas in an uncommon transfer visited the Chief Election Commissioner, Kazi Habibul Awal, within the latter’s workplace and known as for a “credible election”. “I’ll repeat once more as I’ve stated earlier than that the U.S. doesn’t care who wins the election, we simply need an election the place the individuals of Bangladesh can select who their leaders are,” stated Ambassador Haas after the assembly. Before that the European Union too had known as for a “credible, clear and inclusive” election within the nation that’s anticipated to go to the polls subsequent yr.

Observers in Bangladesh have instructed that the rising stress on the electoral entrance from the U.S. and the EU signifies that Dhaka would favor to safe India’s stable assist in coping with the western powers. This cautious angle of Dhaka was on show as Sheikh Hasina’s authorities averted outright condemnation of the remarks on the Prophet by former BJP Spokesperson Nupur Sharma and chief Naveen Kumar Jindal. While sustaining a nuanced place on the Prophet-controversy, Dhaka has been noncommittal relating to a go to of Ms. Hasina to India in July, ostensibly to keep away from any criticism from the fundamentalist sections. The Hindu had reported that the go to could also be a part of her world schedule for September, although a lot depends upon the inner developments in India.

Dhaka is on a robust wicket so far as safety of spiritual freedom of minorities is anxious as displayed by the Rath Yatra of Friday, nonetheless, the experience to a extra advanced democracy with full participation of Opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party is a problem that can unfold within the coming months.


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