Chief Minister of West Bengal Mamata Banerjee would be accompanying Narendra Modi to Dhaka on June 6-7, raising hope that the two countries would seal the much-awaited Teesta water-sharing deal.
"The chief minister will go along with Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Bangladesh next month. We hope this visit will strengthen relations between the two Bengals [West Bengal and Bangladesh] and also between the two countries," West Bengal Education and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Partha Chatterjee said in Kolkata yesterday.
His words ended all the speculations on Mamata's visit to Dhaka.
Indian Prime Minister Modi has also invited Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi, Tripura Chief Minister Manik Sarkar and Meghalaya Chief Minister Mukul M Sangma to accompany him to Dhaka.
Diplomatic sources consider Mamata's decision to visit Bangladesh highly significant. In September 2011, Mamata had opted out of then prime minister Manmohan Singh's entourage to Dhaka following her objection to the water-sharing formula for the Teesta, a river that goes through both the countries.
Her visit this time around was clearly to establish a substantive and comprehensive relationship for the future between the two neighbours, diplomatic sources in Dhaka and New Delhi said.
This would be Mamata's second visit to Dhaka this year. In February, she along with a delegation of state government officials and cultural personalities, visited Dhaka for three days on the occasion of Ekushey February and had talks with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
Mamata had at that time assured Hasina about the Teesta deal, saying, "Have faith in me."
With the Land Boundary Agreement (LBA) having been unanimously ratified by the Indian parliament earlier this month, a crucial step for its implementation, expectation is high in Bangladesh that Modi's visit would see the two countries clinching the Teesta deal as well.
Hasina and Modi are expected to flag off bus services connecting Kolkata-Dhaka-Agartala and Dhaka-Shillong-Guwahati and the chief ministers would witness the signing of the deals.
"Between the two Bengals, there are no differences. We speak the same language, both the countries have national anthems created by the same person [Rabindranath Tagore]. We feel that the visit by the prime minister and the chief minister will be in the interest of both the countries and also Bengal," the West Bengal minister said.
Asked if Mamata had given her consent to the Teesta water-sharing treaty, Partha Chatterjee said, "I am not aware of it and I cannot comment on this matter."