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'I am ready to join politics if my people want'

Mohammed Yunus says he is prepared to join politics if his countrymen felt that his entry would help improve things.

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Bangladeshi Nobel laureate Mohammed Yunus on Monday said he was prepared to join politics if his countrymen felt that his entry would help improve things.

"If people of Bangladesh think that my entry in politics will improve things I am ready to risk a chance," the visiting Nobel laureate told a press conference in Kolkata.

"My well wishers in Bangladesh have said that they would not like to see me in politics. They said they highly respect me and hence cannot see me hurt, tarnished or hurled with allegations as a result of entering politics.

"Politics in Bangladesh is a difficult job. So if I have to join politics I have to join by accepting the fact that I would be targeted," Yunus said.

"If the people of Bangladesh want, I will join politics. I have sought the opinion of all. I think this is an opportunity to create a new brand of politics. Also now an election is coming and so there is scope," he said.

Yunus also emphasised that nationals from SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) countries should hold a single SAARC passport.

"All SAARC country nationals should have a single passport," he said, stressing on the need for strengthening ties in the Indian subcontinent.

During his visit, Yunus is the guest of the state government. Governor Gopal Krishna Gandhi is to host a dinner for him while he has several programmes chalked out for the day. He is to deliver a keynote address at a seminar at the chamber of commerce.

People of West Bengal and Bengalis across India had voted him as "Shera Bangali 2006" (Best Bengali 2006) in an opinion poll conducted by TV channel ETV Bangla.

Yunus will speak on his experiences with Grameen Bank in promoting micro credit in his country and discuss self-help groups of West Bengal. West Bengal Finance Minister Asim Dasgupta said the state government would not be able to offer a formal felicitation to Yunus as Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharya was busy with the visit of Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi to the state, and he would be felicitated by the state government in April.

First Published: Feb 12, 2007 16:19 IST