PM invites Sheikh Hasina to India, Pranab to go to Bangladesh (Second Lead)

December 30th, 2008 - 9:34 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan SinghNew Delhi, Dec 30 (IANS) Congratulating Sheikh Hasina on her electoral victory in Bangladesh, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Tuesday invited her to visit India “at your earliest possible convenience”. He said he would ask his “senior colleague External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee to visit Bangladesh as soon as possible to personally convey our good wishes”.

The prime minister had also called Hasina, president of the Awami League of Bangladesh, Tuesday morning to congratulate her for her party’s landslide victory - and hailed the return of democracy to Bangladesh after two years.

“I also take this opportunity to invite your excellency to visit India at your earliest possible convenience. I am asking my senior colleague, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee, to visit Bangladesh as soon as possible to personally convey our good wishes,” a statement issued here said.

“Please accept my heartiest congratulations on your electoral victory. The successful conduct of free, fair and peaceful elections is a reflection of the desire of the people of Bangladesh for democracy, development and progress

“I am confident that under your leadership, Bangladesh will attain even greater heights,” the statement said.

Noting that India and Bangladesh share historically close and friendly relations, the prime minister said: “I wish to assure you of India’s commitment to the further strengthening and deepening of our relations with Bangladesh. I look forward to working with you towards this end for the mutual benefit of our two peoples.”

“Please accept, Excellency; my best wishes for your good health and personal well being and for the continued progress and prosperity of the friendly people of Bangladesh,” the statement said.

External affairs ministry spokesperson Vishnu Prakash in a statement here 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”.

“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, India 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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