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Modi govt undermining Bengal’s interest by spoiling relations with neighbours: Mamata

West Bengal chief minister claims her state that shares borders with Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh is bearing the brunt of New Delhi’s “deteriorating relations” with all neighbouring countries.

india Updated: Jul 17, 2017 21:14 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Kolkata
Narendra Modi,Mamata Banerjee,India-China faceoff
West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee says her state is bearing the brunt of New Delhi’s “deteriorating relations” with all neighbouring countries(PTI Photo )

West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday accused the Narendra Modi-led central government of undermining the interest of her state by “spoiling relations” with neighbouring countries.

“Bengal that has borders with Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh is bearing the brunt of deteriorating relations with all neighbouring countries. If today Sikkim goes under the control of China, Darjeeling will pay the price. What was the necessity of spoiling the relation with all bordering nations,” said the chief minister.

She was speaking to the media inside the assembly premises after casting her vote in the Presidential elections.

Banerjee was referring to the ongoing standoff between Indian and Chinese armies at the tri-junction of Bhutan, China and India (Sikkim), which is showing no sign of easing. The Bengal border is about 90 km from the point of face-off.

“More than 400 Chinese language schools were set up near Pashupati Gate. What were R&AW (Research and Analysis Wing) and SSB (Sashastra Seema Bal) doing?” she remarked.

The Pashupati gate is at the border of Darjeeling and Nepal.

She claimed Bengal has become a “sandwich” in these conflicts.

Banerjee is the second chief minister to express concern over the ongoing faceoff with China. Earlier Sikkim chief minister Pawan Chamling had said his state did not merge with India to become a sandwich between China and Bengal.

The tiny Himalayan state lost about Rs 60,000 crore in the past 30 years due to intermittent blockades in Bengal’s Darjeeling over demand for a separate Gorkhaland state, he claimed.

Banerjee also accused the Border Security Force (BSF), a central paramilitary force, of allowing the radical groups from Bangladesh to infiltrate into her state.

“I have a documentary evidence to prove that Jamaat (members of radical Jamaat-e-Islami) elements infiltrated into Bengal without any resistance through the border at Satkhira,” she said.

Satkhira is a Bangladesh district sharing border with West Bengal’s North 24 Parganas district.

“What was BSF doing there? Which battalion of BSF was posted there? We have all the information,” she claimed, adding, “The Jamaat is also against Sheikh Hasina (Bangladesh prime minister),” she added.

She also flayed the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) for burning the effigy of Hasina near the Bangladesh Deputy High Commission in Kolkata earlier this month.

“We want good relations with Bangladesh,” said Banerjee, who is also the chairperson of the ruling Trinamool Congress.

Raising her pitch for Opposition unity, the chief minister said, “We, 17 parties, have voted unitedly for Meera Kumar, to register our protest despite the imminent victory of the BJP-nominated candidate. This Opposition unity should continue.”

She said some non-NDA parties are backing BJP “out of fear.”

“But let me caution them that BJP would not spare them in future. So they should stop backing the party,” she added.

First Published: Jul 17, 2017 16:41 IST