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India for fair polls in Dhaka

india Updated: Jan 18, 2007 17:01 IST
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India has reiterated that it wants "free, fair and credible" polls in Bangladesh that will have the participation of all political parties.

The measured statement came from newly appointed Indian High Commissioner Pinak Ranjan Chakraborty on Wednesday, a week after the polls scheduled for Monday next were called off and emergency was imposed.

"We hope a fair and credible election will be held here with the necessary updating of the voter list," Chakraborty told the media after meeting Awami League (AL) President Sheikh Hasina who is leading the country's largest political alliance. He discussed bilateral issues including business and trade.

Chakraborty was extra cautious when stating India's position for fear of being misunderstood, "What is happening in Bangladesh is absolutely her internal matter.

However, we are observing and keeping our government updated on Bangladesh's current political developments."

The Indian mission had a change of guard when Veena Sikri abruptly returned home. Chakraborty is an old hand here, having served as the deputy high commissioner earlier.

Kazi Zafarullah, AL presidium member, told the media that the AL chief and the Indian envoy discussed a range of issues including the economy, land ports, the Ganges water treaty and Chittagong Hill Tracts peace treaty.

He hoped the bilateral relations between the two countries would be strengthened further through discussion.

"An election with the participation of all parties would be acceptable to them (India)," Zafarullah said, adding that AL informed the envoy that it wants the election to be held as early as possible after overhauling the Election Commission and preparing an accurate voter list.

Hasina is perceived in India as the inheritor of the political legacy of Bangladesh's founding father Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

She is credited with having restored a good deal of the cordial ties with India during her 1996-2001 tenure as the country's prime minister.

Last Thursday President Iajuddin Ahmed resigned as the Chief Advisor of the interim government, making way for banker Fakhruddin Ahmed.

The new team, yet to be fully constituted, is grappling with a number of legal and administrative issues pertaining to preparation for the polls.

The team has yet to decide on what legal position it should take over the January 22 polls, whether it should be treated as postponed or cancelled, The Daily Star reported on Thursday.

It also quoted official sources that shifting the Election Commissioners was high on the priority list, but there were legal hurdles.

Ahmed had problem last year removing Chief Election Commissioner MA Aziz, who remains "on leave."

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