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More Modi, more anti-India sentiment for Bangladesh

After Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’srecord-equalling yet subdued election victory, official congratulations came swiftly from neighboring Bangladesh.

Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina wrote to Modi that he carries the “hopes and aspirations of people of India” and scheduled a visit across the border to attend the Indian leader’s oath-taking ceremony for a third consecutive term on June 7.

However, in her own terrain, Hasina is grappling with the highest level of “anti-India” sentiment among the general populace in recent memory.

Indeed, Hasina has had a hard time assuaging the increasing number of opposing and dissenting voices that propagate the narrative suggesting her prolonged tenure – spanning a record four consecutive terms – owes largely to Modi’s support.

There are considerable compelling reasons underlying such a narrative. Riding on two controversial elections in 2014 and 2019, both marked by opposition boycotts and widespread allegations of vote-rigging, Hasina encountered unprecedented pressure from the United States and the European Union – key importers of the South Asian nation’s multi-billion-dollar apparel products –to ensure a free, fair and inclusive electoral process.

Prior to the January election this year,Western pressure escalated as the US imposed visa restrictions on Bangladeshi individuals perceived to obstruct the voting process, fueling widespread speculation of looming economic sanctions targeting the country’s crucial garment sector.

Garments accounted for nearly 85% of Bangladesh’s total exports in 2023, hitting a record of $47 billion in shipments. The US and EU combined took about 80% of Bangladesh’s apparel sales overseas last year.

However, Indian policymakers reportedly