PM congratulates Sheikh Hasina, hopes for better ties (Lead)

December 30th, 2008 - 6:56 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan SinghNew Delhi, Dec 30 (IANS) Hailing the return of democracy in Bangladesh after nearly two years, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Tuesday congratulated Sheikh Hasina whose party won a landslide victory in the elections, and expressed hope about strengthening bilateral ties in the years ahead. The prime minister called Sheikh Hasina, president of the Awami League Party of Bangladesh, Tuesday morning and warmly congratulated her on the landslide victory in the general elections, a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office said here.

“The prime minister said that India looks forward to working with the government and people of Bangladesh in the years ahead for the mutual benefit of the people of the two countries,” Manmohan Singh said.

“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 said.

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 Khaleda Zia’s tenure.

In a stunning landslide victory, former premier Sheikh Hasina’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, which 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.

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