New Delhi: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s ‘off-the-record’ comments that were on his official website for over 30 hours have led to a controversy impacting New Delhi’s relations with Bangladesh, as it comes barely a week before External Affairs Minister S M Krishna’s visit to Dhaka.

The Prime Minister's Office on Friday removed all references to Bangladesh in Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's candid observations, which had shocked many in the diplomatic circles.

However, there was no explanation available on the website as to why the Prime Minister’s comments were erased from the final transcript.

With an upcoming visit of External Affairs Minister S M Krishna to Dhaka on the cards, the controversial statement has irked the political atmosphere and may prove to be a hurdle in the smooth flow of talks between the two neighbours.

At Wednesday’s interaction, Singh had told the editors, “But we must reckon that at least 25 percent of the population of Bangladesh swears by the Jamiat-ul-Islami and they are very anti-Indian, and they are in the clutches, many times, of the ISI. So, the political landscape in Bangladesh can change at any time. We do not know what these terrorist elements, which have a hold on the Jamiat-e-Islami elements in Bangladesh, can be up to.”

This was posted on the PM’s website on Wednesday night as part of the transcripts of Singh’s meeting with the editors.
The Prime Minister’s comment was not just criticized in the Bangladeshi media but has also given a chance to the people in Bangladesh to talk tough against the Hasina government who have been often targeted for taking a soft stance against the Indian government.

The PMO in this regard was not just criticized for making the ‘off-the-record’ talks public but was also flayed for the matter in it.

(JPN/ Bureau)