Indian foreign office says, West Bengal will be consulted on Teesta deal

News Hour:

The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) spokesperson Gopal Baglay said that they will be consulted “at the right time in the spirit of cooperative federalism.”

He, however, did not elaborate how and when.

The statement comes after West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee levelled allegations that the Modi government was preparing to sign the Teesta River water sharing deal with Bangladesh on May 25 without consulting her government.

She expressed deep concern and said she will not put the seal of approval on a deal that adversely impacts on her state’s interests.

But she added she “loved Bangladesh” and had great regards for Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

Diplomatic sources in Delhi say the MEA, on PM Modi’s advice, is trying to work out a face-to-face meeting between Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and chief ministers of Indian states bordering Bangladesh, including West Bengal.

Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj may conduct the deliberations, health conditions permitting.

Indian President Pranab Mukherjee may preside over the deliberations and the meeting may be held in the Rastrapati Bhavan, where PM Hasina will stay during her Apr 7-10 Delhi visit.

Mukherjee and Swaraj, with whom Mamata has better relations than with PM Modi, may try to break the impasse on Teesta by promising to take care of the concerns raised by the West Bengal chief minister.

BJP sources say this would perhaps be the last attempt by the Modi government to get Mamata to agree to the Teesta pact, which it sees as a must-do to fulfil India’s sovereign commitment to a friendly neighbour.

They say if Mamata continues to oppose the Teesta deal, the Modi government may go ahead with it after Sheikh Hasina’s Delhi visit.

 

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