Hasina-Mamata talks may see positive turn to Teesta

Hasina-Mamata talks may see positive turn to Teesta

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Chief Minister of West Bengal, Mamata Banerjee, will be in Delhi during the visit of Bangladesh’s Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. She will also attend the lunch to be hosted in Sheikh Hasina’s honour by the prime minister on 8 April, as well as the dinner to be hosted by the president the same day. A meeting will also be held between Mamata and Hasina.

After issuing an official letter, India’s President Pranab Mukherjee personally made a phone call to Mamata Banerjee, requesting her to come to Delhi. Mamata will arrive in Delhi on 7 April. Sheikh Hasina will arrive on the same day on a three-day visit to India.

It is more or less sure that the Teesta water sharing agreement will not be signed on this trip. However, foreign ministry officials say that positive discussions in the issue be held between Sheikh Hasina and Mamata.

Mamata Banerjee has a sharp conflict with the central government. The West Bengal Chief Minister had strongly opposed Prime Minister Modi’s demonetization decision. She continues criticising the BJP government. She has even accused BJP of stirring up riots. That is why political analysts see Mamata’s visit to Delhi as significant.

Bangladesh’s Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will stay at the president’s official residence Rashtrapati Bhavan at Pranab Mukherjee’s invitation. Pranab Mukherjee shares warm personal ties with Sheikh Hasina. He was her guardian when she would live in India. Later her children lived there under his care too. Last year when his wife Subhra Devi passed away, Hasina rushed to Delhi, ignoring all protocol.

Pranab has good relations with Mamata too. He is very fond of her and Mamata also values his opinion. That is why political observers feel that it may be easy for Pranab to work a way to resolve the Teesta issue. Pranab’s term as president ends in July, so he may resolve the Teesta issue to leave behind a positive achievement before he steps down. As foreign minister in the past, Pranab also knows the details of the Teesta deal.

Meanwhile, Mamata has a volley of complaints against the central government over the Teesta issue. She alleges that the central government does not discuss the matter with her. She was furious when the central government seemed to be going ahead with the deal without consulting her.

She said that the central government had also ignored a number of proposals she had made regarding Teesta. She said Sikkim should be included in the Teesta talks as Sikkim had several hydro-electricity projects on Teesta. She also wanted talks on small reservoirs. So, it won’t be difficult for President Pranab to mitigate Mamata’s anger.

Sheikh Hasina and Mamata share sisterly relations. Mamata herself has said so repeatedly. They often exchange gifts. Mamata is bound to consider Hasina’s request. When she visited Dhaka, Mamata had asked the people to have confidence in her. So, observers feel there may be a solution in the not too far future.

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