West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Saturday assured Bangladesh’s Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina of playing a positive role so that Dhaka and New Delhi could sign a deal for sharing the water of river Teesta at the earliest.
“I will play my role, definitely a positive role for the water treaty,” Banerjee was quoted as saying by Iqbal Sobhan Chowdhury, information adviser to the Bangladeshi PM, after a parley between the two leaders. “She has assured that mutual interest of the people of Bangladesh and West Bengal will be protected in the deal,” he added.
Banerjee had stalled the process of signing the deal when the then Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh made a crucial visit to Dhaka in 2011 and she refrained from travelling with him. Mamata was also initially opposed to a Land Boundary Agreement that was signed by Manmohan during his visit but later she softened her stand.
Banerjee also said she was sympathetic to the residents of the enclaves along Bangladesh-India border and resolving the land boundary was important to settle the long-pending dispute. “I visited the enclaves and saw the miseries of the people there. I am serious to resolve this,” she was quoted as telling Hasina by Chowdhury.
The CM also expressed her hope to launch a direct Kolkata-Dhaka-Agartala bus service. The two leaders also discussed issues ranging from cultural exchange to constructing a complex to display Bangladesh’s history in Kolkata.
Hasina also accepted an invitation from Banerjee to visit Kolkata at any “suitable time”. Banerjee was also keen to establish a university named after Bangladesh’s national poet, Kazi Nazrul Islam.