I THINK Bangladesh should thank Mamata Banerjee for her stinginess regarding water sharing with Bangladesh because if it were not for her objection to Teesta water sharing agreement which she thought to be advantageous to Bangladesh, our government would have inked the dangerous transit agreement. Those who were showing childish eagerness and alacrity for transit should read the statement made by Jawaharlal Nehru in response to the then Pakistan’s request for road transit through India for easy communication between the two branches of Pakistan: ‘It is a strange demand from a peculiar country. A passage to go to their country through a foreign country. It is unprecedented.’ (Amar Desh, September 9). Think of the facts: has India reciprocated our action when we handed over the huge area of Berubari way back in 1974 by handing us the meagre strip of land we required? Indian diplomats may think that we should now be grateful with the assurance of only the 24-hour use of the Teen Bigaha corridor. India grudged us only the 16-mile road transit to Nepal but wants 600-mile of the same from Bangladesh in the name of connectivity. Although, why blame them? Are not some of our intellectuals and ministers dancing to its tune? Can anybody really hurt us without our consent?
WE MUST be grateful to Mamata Banerjee, the chief minister of the Indian state of Pashchim Bongo, for her political — arrogance or sagacity — call it whatever you may, that gave Bangladesh leverage to respond in kind. Both the actions are unheard of. Banerjee compelled the central government of Dr Manmohan Singh to keep in abeyance the deal over Teesta water sharing. In reaction, Bangladesh refrained from signing the protocol on India’s transit for passage of goods to its north-eastern states through Bangladesh territory and use of Chittagong and Mongla seaports. I’m afraid Bangladesh may have agreed to allow passage through a long stretch of land and sea without taking into consideration the social, political and demographical impacts. Mamata Banerjee saved us from the catastrophe.
WITH all the soul searching and looking for answers that is going on now in the political field and in media, one sees no dearth of self-proclaimed experts and as they say in the USA, of ‘Monday morning quarterbacks.’ We cannot comment on the Indian government’s management of affairs, but our government kept all the dealings close to the chest and built up quite a hype on the visit of the Indian prime minister and raised the expectations to great heights. I cannot find fault with the stand of the Pashchim Bongo chief minister as she, like any leader, will be unwilling to yield an inch. The visit and the failure of the Indian prime minister to deliver showed how the central government in India is being undercut by the election of Mamata and the campaign of Anna Hazare. The current government must be congratulated for refusing, as a diplomatic snub, to go for the transit deal during this visit given that our basic infrastructure is in a dilapidated condition.
However, what needs to be done now is to bring the matters of Teesta and Tipaimuk and Farakka dams for international mediation rather than bilateral discussions as India insists. It took almost 40 years to get a ‘closure’ on the enclave issue and therefore we must bring up the matters of rightful share to waters before international forums.
PEOPLE of Bangladesh were crestfallen after learning that the much anticipated agreement on the sharing of the water of Rivers Teesta and Feni was not going to be signed.
It has been abandoned due to the objection of Paschim Bongo chief minister Mamata Banerjee who in the last moment decided not to accompany the Indian prime minister, Manmohan Singh, to Bangladesh. This very unfortunate and embarrassing situation made millions of people unhappy in Bangladesh and cast a shadow upon the relations of the two countries.
We have become very disappointed with our foreign minister, Dipu Moni, who, till the last minute, was assuring us that Teesta deal will be signed and we were feeling hopeful but not only has she been proven wrong, it became clear how ill-informed she was. She should have known all the facts; it is unacceptable from a person holding such an important position. Perhaps the government should reshuffle the foreign ministry and appoint someone who has got all the qualities a minister of foreign affairs should have.