Comments by India’s Singh Sting Bangladesh

Posted July 2nd, 2011 at 9:30 am (UTC-5)
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Controversial comments by Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh made to newspaper editors and posted on his official website are sparking anger and dismay in neighboring Bangladesh.

Bangladeshi newspapers printed the remarks Saturday, even as the prime minister's office removed them for an official transcript.

During the meeting with editors Wednesday, Mr. Singh said Bangladeshis are “very anti-Indian” with 25 percent loyal to Bangladesh's largest Islamist party Jamaat-e-Islami. He also said Jamaat-e-Islami members “are in the clutches” of Pakistan's spy agency and that, as a result, the political situation could change at any time.

Some Bangladeshi officials have come out to reject the claims.

Bangladesh Agricultural Minister Motia Chowdhury said Mr. Singh's statements were not based on fact and that the Jamaat-e-Islami party got only 4 percent of the vote in the last election.

Jamaat-e-Islami also rejected the accusations, saying it believes in maintaining good ties with India.

Officials with Prime Minister Singh's office say the comments were off the record . They were removed from the prime minister's website Friday.

Mr. Singh's remarks come just days ahead of a high level visit by Indian Foreign Minister S.M. Krishna to Dhaka starting July 6.

Mr. Singh has also been battling accusations in the Indian media that he is a lame duck prime minister and has been unable to deal with a host of domestic problems, including widespread corruption.