Mamata to attend Prez dinner for Bangladesh PM
It's official! Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee will be attending the dinner, hosted by President Pranab Mukherjee on April 9 in honour of Prime Minister of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina.
Banerjee will be leaving for the national capital on April, 7. The probability of a meeting with the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi also cannot be ruled out, sources in PMO and Nabanna in Kolkata hinted on Wednesday.
There are indications that Mamata may also attend the bilateral meeting between India and Bangladesh on the Teesta water sharing deal at the Hyderabad House in New Delhi. The Ministry of External Affairs will be confirming the Bengal CM's attendance on Thursday.
During the Bangladesh Prime Minister's visit, both nations are likely to sign up to 35 agreements and memoranda of understanding. Some will boost bilateral trade and investment and cooperation in the energy sector as well as better security along the highly-porous border between the two countries.
VIP status, however, is vested in a water-sharing treaty for the River Teesta, a cross-boundary river like the Ganga. India has promised to resolve long-running differences, but Banerjee said just days ago, "I have not been told anything about the treaty." PM Modi, Sheikh Hasina and Mamata Banerjee met in Dhaka in 2015.
She said she would not serve as "a rubber stamp" and will need assurance from the Prime Minister that Bengal's interests are not being compromised in a water-sharing deal that has been in negotiations for nearly two decades.
Alongside bilateral talks, the Bangladesh PM will be inaugurating the Kolkata to Khulna 2nd Maitree Express and Radhikapur to Biral high-speed diesel wagon service via video conference.
A new bus service from Kolkata to Dhaka via Khulna is also expected to be flagged off by the government of Bengal this week.
Hasina is also likely to meet Congress President Sonia Gandhi and the Vice President Hamid Ansari.
The Bangladesh PM will be visiting the Dargah of Ajmer Sharif during her visit. On April, 10 she will be attending a business meeting, later that evening she is expected to leave for Dhaka.
Meanwhile, political observers said Banerjee's decision to attend the dinner to be hosted by President Mukherjee assumes significance in view of the Bengal CM's differences with the Centre on pressing issues that include demonetization to reduction in the interest rate of small savings.