Sheikh Hasina, Mamata hold talks but skirt Teesta water issue

Wednesday 30th May 2018 05:59 EDT

KOLKATA: Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee last week held discussions on a wide range of topics including education, business and culture, but both did not bring up the contentious issue of Teesta water sharing in their 40-minute meeting.

“It was a courtesy call. I know Hasina di and her family members since long. Bangladesh wants to set up a museum in memory of Bangabandhu who spent some time in Kolkata’s Theare Road. I said we will provide the land,” Mamata said after the meeting.

It was not expected that a solution to the Teesta issue would shape up this time. For that, the West Bengal government would have had to intimate the Centre that will take up the matter with the neighbouring country at the meeting, which was not done. While Hasina badly wants the Teesta water-sharing treaty signed before the 2018 general elections in Bangladesh, Mamata has her compulsions, too. The CM, too, cannot let go the interests of half a dozen districts in north Bengal that depend on Teesta water for agriculture when the Lok Sabha polls are due in 2019.

Political observers saw the meeting as a bid by Bangladesh to keep the West Bengal CM “in good humour” and try out a workable plan. Though the CM did not utter a word on the outcome of the meeting, her comments made it clear that she has not closed door for water-sharing.

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