The West Bengal government will return to its rigid stance against the Teesta water sharing agreement. This was evident in the strong protest voiced by Trinamool Congress in parliament on Monday.
While the Teesta treaty may not be signed during the forthcoming visit of Bangladeshâ€™s Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, the Indian government plans to deliver a message regarding Teesta when President Pranab Mukherjee invites the chief ministers of five states bordering with Bangladesh, to a meeting with Sheikh Hasina. On a return visit to Dhaka in May this year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi may sign this deal as a gift to Hasina.
Analysts find it intriguing that the Indian government has not bothered to take Mamata into confidence regarding the agreement. Trinamool Congress vented it anger in parliament over the issue. The partyâ€™s member of parliament Saugata Roy drew the Speakerâ€™s attention to the matter in the Lok Shabha on Monday, saying they would not accept sacrificing West Bengalâ€™s interests by giving water to Bangladesh.
Only recently during an interview with a Kolkata TV channel, the chief minister herself said had she had heard the government was planning to sign the Teesta treaty on 25 May this year. She said she had not been apprised of the matter. Referring to this, Saugata Roy told the parliament that the West Bengal government would not give its approval for the deal. Trinamool Congress, in effect, has threatened the central government.
In the meantime, on Friday spokesperson of the foreign ministry Gopal Baglay said that the government would discuss the matter with all stakeholders including the state government, in the spirit of unity and cooperation. However, no such talks have been held till date.
Saugata Roy has also pointed out that India had differing stances towards Pakistan and Bangladesh regarding water sharing. Pakistan would not be given extra water at the cost of Indianâ€™s interests. However, in the case of Bangladesh its policy was quite the opposite.
The Trinamool Congress leader was accused of obstructing the Teesta agreement. The deal has been hanging in the air since 2011. The India government promised Bangladesh that it would sign the deal, but the West Bengal government has obstructed it. During the UPA government rule, Manmohan Singh had tried to sidestep Mamata and go ahead with the deal, but failed to do so. Mamataâ€™s objections held up the deal. Sourced in Sikkim, 83 percent of Teesta flows through West Bengal into Bangladesh. Large tracts of agricultural land in West Bengal and Bangladesh are dependent on this river for water.
Mamata has said she is agreeable to discuss the Teesta deal, giving priority to her stateâ€™s interests. However, the state government complains that the Modi government is going ahead to draft the deal without talking Mamata into confidence. Even the date for signing the deal has been fixed while Mamata remains in the dark. This has fueled the fury of Trinamool Congress.
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