Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is on a two-day visit to Bangladesh, addressed people of the Matua community on Saturday during his visit to a temple in Orakandi in the country’s Gopalganj district. Modi said that he was looking to come to the temple since his Bangladesh visit in 2015, IANS reported.
“Who would have thought that India’s prime minister will come to Orakandi,” Modi said. “Today, I share the same feeling which my lakhs of Matua brothers and sisters living in India experience after coming to Orakandi. When I first visited Bangladesh in 2015, I hoped that someday I will be able to come here. My wish has been fulfilled today.”
Modi also announced that India will upgrade one girls’ middle school and set up a primary school in Orakandi, PTI reported.
The prime minister’s visit to Orakandi holds significance back home too, as it coincided with the first phase of voting in West Bengal. There are nearly 1.5 crore voters of the Matua community in West Bengal, who wield impact in at least 30 Assembly seats, according to the Hindustan Times.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee too raised the matter while addressing an election rally in Kharagpur city, ANI reported. She claimed that the prime minister’s speech amounted to violation of model code of conduct. She also said that the Trinamool Congress will take up the matter with the Election Commission, PTI reported.
“When a Bangladeshi actor attended one of our rallies during the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the Bharatiya Janata Party spoke to the Bangladeshi government and got his visa cancelled, Banerjee said. “Now when the prime minister is speaking in a foreign country in context of the elections, then what?”
Banerjee also made a reference to Modi’s visit to Texas in United States for the ‘Howdy, Modi!’ rally in 2019, where he endorsed former President of the country Donald Trump. “And now during Assembly polls in Bengal you are going to Bangladesh to peddle lies before a section of people, to mislead a section of voters here,” she added.
Meanwhile, speaking on the ties between the two neighbouring countries, Modi said that both India and Bangladesh want to see the world progress through their own development.
“Both the nations want stability, love and peace in the world instead of chaos, terrorism and strife,” Modi said. “These are the values and lessons [Matua sect leader] Shri Harichand Dev Ji had imparted.”
Earlier on Saturday, Modi visited the mausoleum of Bangladesh’s first Prime Minister Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in Tungipara and paid floral tributes to him. The visit was the first one by a foreign head of state to pay homage at the Bangabandhu Mausoleum Complex, a statement by Modi’s office said.
“The life of Bangabandhu epitomised the freedom struggle of the people of Bangladesh for their rights, for the preservation of their inclusive culture and their identity,” Modi wrote in a message in the visitor’s book at the mausoleum.
The prime minister also visited offered prayers at the Jeshoreshwari Kali Temple in Satkhira district. He announced a grant for construction of a community hall and cyclone shelter attached to the temple.