Congress president Sonia Gandhi Friday congratulated Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on the birth centenary of ”Bangabandhu” Sheikh Mujibur Rehman and said 1971 was a transformative year for both the countries.
Recalling the role Indira Gandhi played in the liberation of Bangladesh, she said the bond between the people of the two countries was in large measure due to the contribution of the late Indian prime minister.
In her video message to both Ms Hasina and Bangladesh President Abdul Hamid, Sonia Gandhi also said that the two countries face multiple challenges on the economic, political and environmental fronts but most of all the challenge of preserving “liberal pluralism”.
“Most of all both Bangladesh and India, which have been beacons for the celebration of diversities, are being called upon to protect and strengthen their composite heritage and their glorious traditions of liberal pluralism,” she said.
Congratulating the people of Bangladesh on the golden jubilee of the country’s independence, she said, “50 years ago, the courageous people of Bangladesh scripted a whole new destiny for themselves transforming both the history and the geography of the subcontinent.”
Sonia Gandhi said over the past five decades, Bangladesh’s remarkable achievements in social development, community participation, economic growth, and other areas have been very impressive and have received global recognition.
“We in India have always had a special relationship with the people of Bangladesh. This has been in very large measure because of the role Indira Gandhi played in the historic events of 1971 and the deep bonds of mutual respect, admiration and deep friendship that Bangabandhu and she established,” she said.
“1971 was as much a transformative year for India as it was for Bangladesh. A year that saw Indira Gandhi in all her magnificence as a political leader and statesman. Soon thereafter, Sheikh Mujibur Rehman himself emerged on the world stage as the leader of his people,” she noted.
Sonia Gandhi also recalled how she and her husband Rajiv Gandhi were present in Delhi during the period.
“On this joyous occasion and as someone who lived through the transformative hours, days, weeks and months of 1971 by Indira Gandhi’s side, in her home along with my husband Rajiv ji, I am personally delighted to share the pride of Sheikh Hasina and millions of her countrymen and women,” she said.
The Congress chief was invited by Ms Hasina to participate in the golden jubilee celebrations of Bangladesh’s independence, but could not go due to COVID-19 restrictions and sent a video message instead.