Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday virtually ruled out sharing Teesta waters with Bangladesh, arguing there is no water to be shared in the first place.
Speaking at a public meeting in the north Bengal district of Cooch Behar, she said, “The Teesta does not have water to be shared? We can give water from (the rivers) where it is available.” This was the first time Mamata Banerjee was visiting north Bengal, the region through which the Teesta flows, after her meeting with the Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
With this public comment, the Bengal chief minister has ruled out sharing waters of the river that the Sheikh Hasina regime in Dhaka is desperately seeking from India.
Her stand may not please the Narendra Modi government that assured Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina of a solution to the water sharing question “soon”.
On April 8, the issue was discussed between the two prime ministers at Hyderabad House in Delhi.
At a joint press conference Narendra Modi said the agreement was crucial for bilateral ties and expressed hope that the Bengal chief minister will eventually support it. “I know that her (Mamata Banerjee’s) feelings for Bangladesh are as warm as my own. I assure you and the people of Bangladesh of our commitment and continuing efforts (with regard to finalising the treaty),” he said. Modi added that he “firmly” believed that an early solution to the issue “can and will” be found.
The Teesta water sharing issue has been a vexed question for quite some years. In 2011, the Bengal chief minister put former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in a post by pulling out from his delegation to visit to Dhaka over the Teesta water-sharing deal, scuttling the agreement.
Incidentally, it is important for Sheikh Hasina to get an agreement on sharing Teesta waters as she is under pressure at home to deliver on this front.
On Tuesday, Mamata Banerjee, too, said that she wants cordial ties between the two countries.