Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Mamata visit usher hope of strengthening Indo-Bangladesh relations


SALEEM SAMAD

All set for Mamata Banerjee’s visit to Bangladesh, which usher hopes of taking the India-Bangladesh relations at new height, when her party is sailing through troubled waters.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata is arriving on an official visit to Dhaka during the observance of Ekushey February and opening of the International Mother Language Institute building at Kakrail on Basha Dibash (February 21).

Banerjee’s visit has acquired major significance especially against the backdrop of her resistance to sign the treaties back in 2011, when then Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh had to back off at the last minute due to her position.

Though her government has softened its stand against the LBA, not much progress has been made in the water sharing agreement, which has become a major point of conflict between the two neighbouring countries.

The All India Trinamool Congress (TMC) leader would be welcomed with open arms, but the Foreign Office was uncomfortable after media reports of arrival of controversial legislator Ahmed Hassan Imran.

A top Foreign Office official confirmed that the government has received the final and full list of entourage of Mamata Banerjee’s visit to Dhaka on February 19. The list does not have Imran’s name.

Diplomats in Bangladesh have been saying that it would not be right if Imran visited their country. The government have expressed reservations about Imran coming to Bangladesh, says the official.

Imran is a TMC lawmaker who was appointed to the Rajya Sabha. His appointment last year had created uproar as it came just after Indian security agencies dossier had flagged him for being sympathetic of the dreaded Jamaat-e-Islami and also blamed to destabilise the Awami League government.

During her visit to the Bangladesh capital, Mamata is expected to meet President Mohammad Abdul Hamid and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and discuss key treaties like the Teesta water sharing agreement and the Land Boundary Agreement (LBA) between the two neighbouring countries.

During his lasts visit to Kolkata Bangladesh Finance Minister A.M. Abdul Muhith had hoped that Banerjee would visit the country soon.

However, Dhaka and New Delhi are both anxious for a positive response during her visit, during which both the countries hope to solve the difference in the two treaties that have soured their relationship in the recent past.

Meanwhile, Mamata seem in trouble and she remarked on Monday that her party is strong and united, amidst reports of TMC general secretary Mukul Roy forming a new political outfit.

Later Mukul Roy was left in the cold by Banerjee in an organisational shake-up that took place.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's party lawmaker has dared her to punish him for writing to the central government directly about corruption in his constituency.

The legislator has been in the spotlight for alleging that "extortionists in the Trinamool are not allowing good people to work."

On the other hand, Mamata’s Bangladesh visit has caught the ire of controversial writer Taslima Nasreen, who has alleged that she was shielding Muslim radicals in her state.

Saleem Samad, is an Ashoka Fellow for journalism and an award winning investigative reporter. He has worked as news reporter for Time magazine and presently is news correspondent for The Daily Observer, Paris based Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and regular contributor for prestigious international magazine India Today.
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