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‘Burn Indian sarees of your wives first’: Bangladesh PM Sheikh Hasina blasts BNP over ‘Boycott India’ campaign

"How many Indian saris do their (BNP leaders) wives have?" Hasina inquired last week. "BNP leaders are calling for a boycott of Indian products. Why are they not taking away the sarees of their wives?" Hasina inquired, eliciting a few chuckles at the Awami League office in Dhaka.

Opposition leaders in Bangladesh were attempting to inflame anti-India sentiment. Their campaign gained traction after Sheikh Hasina, who has close connections with India, won a fourth term. Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina now has launched a full-fledged attack on the opposition’s ‘Boycott India’ campaign after being silent for months. Hasina, who adores the sari and is often seen wearing it, has advised BNP leaders to burn their wives’ Indian sarees before running a ‘Boycott India’ campaign.

Opponents of Hasina and her Awami League party have tried to label her as “pro-India” and claim that India helped her win the January elections. They launched a campaign calling on Bangladeshis to boycott Indian products.

After sitting mute for months as the matter simmered, Hasina lashed out at leaders of Bangladesh’s largest opposition party, the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), and flipped the script on the ‘Boycott India campaign’. Hasina, who took office following an overwhelming victory in the January elections that the BNP boycotted, used the ‘modest sari’ to correct BNP officials who had been supporting a ‘boycott Indian items’ campaign on social media.

Sheikh Hasina has referred to India as a “great friend” in several situations. “How many Indian saris do their (BNP leaders) wives have?” Hasina inquired last week. “BNP leaders are calling for a boycott of Indian products. Why are they not taking away the sarees of their wives?” Hasina inquired, eliciting a few chuckles at the Awami League office in Dhaka.

Hasina, who is known for her love of saris and giving them to Indian leaders, then proposed a sari test for the opposition leaders.

“When they burn their wives’ Indian saris in front of their party office, only then will it be proven that they are truly committed to boycotting Indian products,” she declared as she launched the sari attack. The Bangladeshi Prime Minister accused BNP leaders and their wives of buying saris from India and selling them in Bangladesh, in addition to the sari test.

“When the BNP was in power, I witnessed wives of its leaders flying to India in parties to purchase Indian saris. They would sell the saris in Bangladesh,” claimed Hasina.

Sheikh Hasina was not merely referring to the Indian Sari. She also threw a handful of “Indian spices” into the saucepan. “I’ve got one more question. We import ‘garam masala’, onion, garlic, ginger, and other products from India. Why don’t the BNP leaders cook without Indian spices?” she said. On March 27, Skeikh Hasinsa stated that they must cook and consume meals that do not contain these spices.

“They must answer if they will be able to eat the food without the spices, they will have to answer that,” she went on to say.

The ‘Boycott India’ movement sparked widespread internet outrage, equivalent to the ‘India Out’ campaign in the Maldives. Following Hasina’s election, there were reports of some level of resistance to Indian goods and commodities in February.

Dhaka marketplaces, which are typically stocked with Indian merchandise, refused to accept new delivery. Sales of Indian products such as cooking oil, processed foods, toiletries, cosmetics, and clothes decreased. According to reports, an online campaign spearheaded mostly by the Bangladeshi diaspora and those in exile in Europe and the Americas resulted in a boycott of Indian products.

Pinaki Bhattacharya, located in Paris, is said to be one of the primary drivers of the ‘Boycott India’ movement. The Bangladesh Nationalist Party was not among those who advocated for the boycott. Later, the BNP became involved with the anti-India campaign as some of its leaders provided their support.

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OpIndia Staff
OpIndia Staff
Staff reporter at OpIndia

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