India welcomes return of democracy in Bangladesh

December 30th, 2008 - 4:19 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Dec 30 (IANS) Hailing the return of multi-party democracy after nearly two years in Bangladesh, India Tuesday welcomed the “historic victory” of the Grand Alliance led by Sheikh Hasina Wajed and hoped to bolster bilateral ties under the new dispensation. “India congratulates the people of Bangladesh on the fair, peaceful and free conduct of their general elections which mark the return to multi-party democratic politics in a close and friendly neighbour,” external affairs ministry spokesperson Vishnu Prakash said in a statement here.

“The historic victory of the Awami League and the Grand Alliance led by Sheikh Hasina is a major landmark in democratic politics in South Asia,” the spokesperson added.

Alluding to the large turnout of voters, 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,” Prakash said.

“India looks forward to working closely with the newly elected government in Bangladesh to further strengthen our bonds of friendship and cooperation in the quest for peace and development,” he underlined.

In a stunning landslide victory, ex-premier Sheikh Hasina Wajed’s alliance defeated her archrival and former prime minister Khaleda Zia’s Bangladesh Nationalist Party-led four-party grouping in Monday’s elections that took place after nearly two years of army-backed rule in Dhaka.

The grand alliance bagged 258 seats, that 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.

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 Zia’s tenure.

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