Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen has been caught in an escalating war of words for his public statement over "seeking India's support for the government to stay in power and maintain stability" with even his party colleagues distancing themselves from the diplomat-turned-politician.
A day after ruling Awami League General Secretary Obaidul Quader stating Momen's statement as of his own, another senior leader yesterday said the party will not take responsibility for the statement of Abdul Momen citing that "the minister is not a member of the political party".
"Since AK Abdul Momen is nobody of Awami League, the party will not take any responsibility for his remark," Awami League Presidium Member Abdur Rahman, MP, told reporters after attending a discussion programme on 15 August at Dhanmondi 32.
"Awami League's coming to power does not depend on the support of any country," he asserted.
Meanwhile, in a discussion on the National Mourning Day yesterday, Obaidul Quader said they have friends abroad but not lords, while the BNP has foreign masters.
The Awami League did not come to power at the mercy of anyone, rather it got people's absolute mandate to form the government, he mentioned.
Volleys of protest continued to pour in from opposition politicians with Jatiya Party chairman GM Quader and Mahmudur Rahman Manna president of Nagarik Oikya, among others, joining the bandwagon after stern reactions from BNP.
FM Momen, after finding his clarification not working to convince the critics both within the party and outside, avoided talking to media at a programme he attended yesterday along with some of his cabinet colleagues.
Foreign Minister Momen, while addressing a Janmashtami programme in JM Sen Hall in Chattogram on Thursday evening (18 August), said he had requested the Indian government to do whatever was necessary to help Bangladesh maintain stability and harmony.
As his statement immediately created a stir in the political arena, drawing flak from the BNP which said the government has resorted to foreign countries to survive, Momen clarified his remark the day after, claiming that he was wrongly quoted. What he wanted to say was that he had told the Indian government that Prime Minister Hasina's government was pledge-bound to ensure stability in the country and therefore he had sought India's help in this regard.
But the clarification did not put an end to criticism.
The recent statement made by the foreign minister proves that the incumbent government is still in power at the mercy of India, said BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir.
"The foreign minister did not even change his statement, instead backed it up with another one. Those who seek shelter from other countries have no right to rule this country," the BNP senior leader said during a human chain programme organised by the University Teachers Association of Bangladesh in front of the National Press Club on Saturday morning.
Talking at an event at the National Press Club on Saturday morning, Mahmudur Rahman Manna, president of Nagarik Oikya, commented that Awami League cannot stay in power without India's support.
In reference to the foreign minister's request to the Indian government to stay in power, Manna said, "If Sheikh Hasina's government can exist without any support from India, then why did he tell the Indian government? He [the foreign minister] thinks that there is no way to keep Sheikh Hasina's government now without the support of India."
While exchanging greetings with leaders of the Hindu community at the Jatiya Party chairman's office in Banani on Saturday, Jatiya Party Chairman GM Quader said Abdul Momen's statement had made not only the ruling Awami League uncomfortable, but also India.
Selim Raihan, executive director at South Asian Network on Economic Modelling, has said the recent statement of Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen on seeking India's backing to keep Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in power will weaken the country's bargaining position for economic partnerships.
"As a student of political economy, I can say such unnecessary remarks from the top of important ministries will weaken our bargaining position in important areas," he wrote on his Facebook wall on Saturday.
He also claimed that Momen's statement has tarnished the image of Bangladesh.