A Progressive Party of Maldives worker poses with an "India Out" flag in Male, Maldives, March 21, 2022. Picture taken March 21, 2022. REUTERS/Alasdair Pal

DHAKA (Agencies): Bangladesh’s largest opposition party, the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), has initiated an ‘India Out’ movement, echoing a similar campaign in the Maldives that strained its diplomatic relations with India. The BNP, known for its historical anti-India stance, has raised concerns about the potential repercussions of this movement.

The ‘India Out’ movement in the Maldives, driven by a desire for closer ties with China and perceived encroachments on national sovereignty, set a worrying precedent. The BNP’s decision to launch a similar campaign, amidst global accusations of it being a Tier-III terrorist organization, adds a new dimension to the geopolitical landscape.

The BNP’s acting chairman, Tarique Rahman, allegedly based in London, has orchestrated the ‘India Out’ movement. Anti-India slogans and online activities aimed at inciting anti-India sentiments have emerged, extending their influence as far as Nepal via social media platforms.

The BNP was founded in 1978 by military ruler Maj Gen Ziaur Rahman with the aim of promoting anti-India and anti-Hindu sentiments, aligning Bangladesh with a pseudo-Pakistani identity. Gen Zia shifted foreign policy away from India, fostering relationships with the US, Western Europe, and Islamic nations. His Islamization agenda left a lasting impact, emphasizing Islamic solidarity and marginalizing non-Muslim minorities.

The ‘India Out’ movement signifies a continuation of the deep-seated animosities embedded in the BNP’s foundation. The party’s alignment with anti-India ideologies and its potential to mobilize supporters pose a serious security threat to the region.

Millions of BNP supporters inclined towards jihadism and anti-Hindu sentiments could escalate tensions in the region, particularly for India. Policymakers in Dhaka and New Delhi must not underestimate the potential fallout of the movement. Addressing historical sentiments and understanding the ideological underpinnings is crucial for fostering lasting peace and cooperation in the region.

The ‘India Out’ movement holds significant implications, and the BNP’s historical alignment with anti-India ideologies demands attention. Policymakers need to formulate effective responses that address the root causes and mitigate potential fallout in a world where regional stability is paramount.

The launch of the ‘India Out’ movement by the BNP is not merely a contemporary development but is deeply rooted in historical narratives and party ideologies. Understanding this context is crucial for policymakers to navigate the complexities and ensure regional stability, fostering lasting peace and cooperation.

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