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HindustanTimes Sun,21 Dec 2014

World

Ahead of polls, Dhaka hopes for Teesta pact
Jayanth Jacob, Hindustan Times
Dhaka, March 05, 2013
First Published: 23:42 IST(5/3/2013)
Last Updated: 01:14 IST(6/3/2013)

As President Pranab Mukherjee concludes his three-day visit here on Tuesday, Dhaka is high on hope for Teesta water-sharing pact and the land boundary agreement (LBA) being sealed as it would enable PM Sheikh Hasina to visit India before Bangladesh goes to polls in year-end.

Mukherjee assured Bangladesh leadership that India is committed to the “early” conclusion of the two outstanding issues.

Faced with a turbulent political situation, which was also reflected when leader of opposition Begum Khaleda Zia cancelled her meeting with Mukherjee, the government here has been fighting the charges of “being sold-out to India.”

As the Hasina government completes its term, the Bangladesh National Party and its ally Jammat-e-Islami are already in poll mode.

New Delhi has also been constrained by domestic politics in pushing through the Teesta water pact and LBA and the latter requires a constitutional amendment.

As BJP has been vocal against the LBA, without the principal opposition party on board, it will be tough for the government to push through a constitutional amendment.

Indian officials are hopeful of “international consultation process,” which means getting Mamata Banerjee on board on Teesta once the civic polls get over in West Bengal in May.

Considering there are 54 rivers that flow between the two countries, water is a huge emotional and political issue for the two neighbours.

‘People should form their own view on PM’
Mukherjee on Tuesday night refused to be drawn into any discussion on Gujarat CM Narendra Modi’s statement that he would have been a better choice as PM, saying it is for the people to form their own opinion.

“You should have your own assessment,” Mukherjee said in response to a question on Modi’s comments that he would have been a better PM than Manmohan Singh.

The cryptic one-liner came when reporters accompanying him back from his three-day state visit to Bangladesh posed the query to him.


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