Eyeing possible political role, Hasina's daughter Saima joins her mother at G20 meet
Published : Friday, 8 September, 2023 at 9:35 PM Count : 961
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's daughter Saima Wazed is accompanying her mother during her trip to India to attend the G20 Summit on September 9 and 10, according to an news article published in Firstpost, quoting officials of Bangladesh.
Firstpost says that Saima's appearance at a second high-profile international event after a trip with Bangladesh's President Mohammed Shahabuddin to Indonesia earlier this week to attend the ASEAN summit where her candidature for a WHO post was announced to a global audience, has also triggered speculation that she may in time be given a larger political role in the ruling Awami League.
"Saima Wazed will be in Delhi during the G20 talks," a top official of the Bangladesh foreign ministry confirmed. "The question of a succession plan in Awami League has long been thought about. We believe that it will be done in a democratic manner, but democracy does not eliminate familial ties that a person may have with a political party," said Ambassador Sarvajit Chakravarti, who has served two stints in Dhaka and is currently associated with a think tank Ceners-K.
This is possibly the first time Hasina's daughter will be by her mother's side during an official visit to close neighbour and ally India, and analysts believe this is significant in many ways.
Saima, an autism expert who is standing for election as regional director for South-East Asia Region (SEARO) at World Health Organization (WHO), will be looking at India, one of 11 countries in the region, to endorse her. Bangladesh's top diplomats are believed to have lobbied for her election among ASEAN countries.
India will have to choose between her and Nepal's Shambhu Prasad Acharya for the WHO job. Given the importance that India attaches to its ties with both Bangladesh and Nepal, the choice is likely to be a tough one.
"A visit by Sheikh Hasina's daughter to India at a global meeting is an interesting development. Besides her nomination for an international organisation, it bears watching if she will opt for a larger role in Bangladesh," said Shantanu Mukherjee IPS (Retd), former National Security Advisor to Mauritius and a Bangladesh expert.
Sheikh Hasina is yet to indicate any potential successor to the leadership of Awami League, though her son Sajeeb Ahmed Wazed Joy as he is popularly known, was at one time seen by many as a potential candidate.
Saima who has been an advisor to the WHO director general on Mental Health and Autism as well as a member of WHO expert advisory panel on mental health, has till now shown no inclination to enter politics.
"We have not seen Sheikh Hasina suggest any succession plan as yet though over the years we have noted that her son Sajib Wazed being given responsibilities on IT by the Awami League. Now, Saima has also come into the picture. One can only presume that both are being groomed for a political role in the future, said Dr Sreeradha Dutta, former director Maulana Abul Kalam Azad Institute of Asian Studies and currently fellow with National University of Singapore.
Bangladesh is headed for a general election in the coming winter months where the ruling Awami League will be looking to win for an unprecedented fourth time.