New Delhi, Oct. 1: Mamata Banerjee’s strident anti-UPA stand has emboldened the Centre to go ahead and sign the Teesta water-sharing agreement with Bangladesh.
The Centre hopes to give final shape to the treaty, factoring in Bengal’s concerns based on river expert Kalyan Rudra’s report, before Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina visits India early next year.
Sources said the foreign ministry and the water resources ministry had both been instructed by the Prime Minister’s Office to push for an early conclusion of the treaty.
The foreign ministry had recently invited Bangladesh cabinet secretary Muhammad Musharraf Hossain Bhuiyan to discuss ways to deepen co-operation between the neighbours. The official was briefed on the status of the stalled Teesta pact as well as the Land Boundary Agreement.
The Teesta treaty could not be signed during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s Dhaka visit in September 2011 following the Bengal chief minister’s last-minute opposition to the pact. Mamata felt the treaty was against Bengal’s interests and was being inked without consulting her state.
The boundary deal was inked but is yet to be ratified by India’s Parliament, primarily because Mamata’s Trinamul has been opposing it too.
Singh’s failure to deliver on the Teesta treaty left the Hasina government open to Opposition charges of having surrendered Bangladeshi interests without getting anything in return as Dhaka had handed over to India several militants since 2009. Elections are due in Bangladesh in 2013.
In New Delhi, sources said, there had been forward movement on the agreement since the Bangladesh cabinet secretary’s visit. The bureaucrat was informed that the boundary pact would be tabled in Parliament for ratification when the winter session begins next month.
Delhi is also working to build bridges with other Bangladeshi leaders like Khaleda Zia, who is tipped to win the 2013 polls. South Block has invited her for a visit this month.