In a shocking development, the Mamata Banerjee led TMC employed actor Ferdous Ahmed to campaign for the party for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. At a time when the NRC and deportation of Bangladeshi infiltrators has become a major issue, the Mamata led party clearly tried to use the Bangladeshi actor in order to appease her vote bank.
The Ministry of Home Affairs rightly took strong exception to this and cancelled the Business Visa of Ferdous Ahmed after receiving a report from the Bureau of Immigration regarding visa violations committed by the Bangladeshi actor. A ‘Leave India’ notice was also issued to the actor and his name has also been blacklisted. The BJP has also taken up this serious issue and moved the Election Commission over the issue of Bangladeshi actors campaigning for the TMC. The BJP has demanded that the Bangladeshi actors campaigning for the Mamata Banerjee led party must be arrested. BJP leader JP Majumdar said, “We understand that foreign nationals can’t participate in the electioneering process in India. When the TMC is using Bangladeshi nationals (actor Ferdous) for campaigning, they are breaking the rules. He should be arrested for breach of visa rules.”
Ferdous is not the only Bangladeshi actor to have campaigned for the TMC. Another Bangladeshi actor, Gazi Abdun Noor has also been campaigning for the party. It must be understood that the act of Bangladeshi actors campaigning for the TMC does not only constitute a grave violation of the Model Code of Conduct but also amounts to foreign interference in India’s affairs and a violation of India’s sovereignty.
The issue of Bangladeshi actors campaigning for the TMC is not only about the mala fide intentions of a particular party, but it actually goes much deeper. Sources in the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) have termed this move as a violation of the visa norms and a move to meddle with India’s sovereignty. The Bangladesh High Commission has also taken this seriously and has asked the Bangladeshi actors to return to their home country and come back to India only after the Lok Sabha polls are over.
It must be noted that the involvement of foreign elements into a country’s election process is increasingly seen as a flagrant violation of the sovereignty of the country going through the electoral process. International law experts see such foreign interference as impinging upon the sovereignty of the country going through the election process. So international lawyers even argue that such conduct and interference amounts to a violation of international law.
Therefore, the kind of impact this move will have on Indo-Bangladesh relations cannot be overemphasized. India being the largest democracy in the world should go to any extent in order to keep its democratic ethos intact. The MHA has done the right thing by cancelling the visa of the Bangladeshi actor and now it is up to the Election Commission to take stringent action against the TMC for not only violating the Model Code of Conduct but also threatening India’s sovereignty and democratic ethos.