About hilsa and Teesta | The Daily Star
04:56 AM, February 22, 2015 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:40 AM, March 24, 2015

About hilsa and Teesta

Talks, luncheon held in lighter vein during Mamata's nearly 100-minute stay at Gono Bhaban
Staff Correspondent

As our reporter was denied access to the Gono Bhaban  without being given any reason, this report is based on information from secondary sources.


They joked, they laughed. Witty one-liners might have been the highlights of their meeting, but those were not without serious undertones.

When Mamata Banerjee jokingly complained about not getting enough hilsa in Kolkata, Sheikh Hasina quipped: the more water flows into Bangladesh, the more hilsa there will be.

In a similar vein, Mamata said they want hilsa from the Padma, not from the Teesta.  

This is how the conversation went on between the Bangladesh prime minister and the West Bengal chief minister, linking the mouth-watering Bangalee delicacy, Ilish, to a crucial issue like the Teesta water sharing. 

It was Mamata who opposed the Teesta deal that the then Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh wanted to sign with Sheikh Hasina in 2011, saying it would hurt India's north Bengal.

But yesterday, while spending more than one and a half hours at the Gono Bhaban, she assured Hasina that the long-awaited pact would be inked “very soon” keeping intact the mutual interests of Bangladesh and West Bengal.

She urged the PM not to worry about it and pledged to play a positive role in signing the treaty. 

Mamata, who was on the last day of her three-day visit, also assured Hasina that the bill to operationalise the Land Boundary Agreement (LBA) with Bangladesh would be ratified in Indian parliament's budget session due to begin tomorrow.

Received by Hasina at the Gono Bhaban's main entrance around 12:40pm, Mamata held one-to-one talks with the PM for about 30 minutes after a meeting in the presence of delegations of the two countries. 

It could not be known what the two leaders discussed at the one-to-one talks, but sources said their conversations for the rest of the time were mostly warm and friendly. 

Before leaving the PM's residence at 2:15pm, Mamata and her team attended a luncheon -- some 12 food items, including four of hilsa, served.

Overwhelmed by the prime minister's hospitality, the West Bengal CM termed her Bangladesh visit “constructive, positive and historic”, reports UNB.

“Her [PM Sheikh Hasina's] warmth and grace made me emotional. The visit was constructive, positive and, may I say, historic,” she tweeted hours before her departure for home.

A flight of Air India carrying Mamata and her entourage left Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport at 9:40pm.

Earlier at the Gono Bhaban, the PM presented a miniature boat to the West Bengal CM and urged the latter to take necessary measures so that boats can navigate on Bangladesh's rivers.

“Don't worry! Boats will sail on,” Mamata replied, according to an Awami League leader.

Boat is also the election symbol of the ruling AL. 

A press release issued by the Indian high commission said the chief minister conveyed to Dhaka the West Bengal government's commitment to the LBA, and Sheikh Hasina thanked her for the support.

Discussing the Teesta issue, Mamata said the matter should be resolved in a way that benefits both sides and safeguards the welfare of the populations dependent on the river, flowing from India to Bangladesh.

PM's Media Adviser Iqbal Sobhan Chowdhury briefed the reporters about the outcome of the Gono Bhaban meet.

"We are looking after the interest of Bangladesh with utmost importance,” he quoted Mamata as saying. “The agreement will be inked very soon preserving the interests of both Bangladesh and West Bengal."

The Indian high commission release added both leaders expressed strong commitment on combating terrorism and reiterated their policy of zero tolerance.

Mamata presented Hasina with a portrait of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. She also invited the PM to visit West Bengal for inauguration of Bangabandhu Chair at Kolkata University and Bangladesh Bhaban in Shantiniketan.

Hasina accepted the invitation, according to the release.




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