Prasanta J Baruah
DHAKA, Sept 7 – West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Bannerjee has been blamed by the Bangladesh media for the failure of the Indian and Bangladesh governments to sign historic agreements on transit and sharing of the Teesta and Feni river waters which were considered to be the takeaways from the Indian Prime Minister's visit to Bangladesh.
Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh's visit and his official talks yesterday were overshadowed by New Delhi's last minute dramatic decision against signing the Teesta water-sharing treaty in the face of stiff opposition from the West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Bannerjee, The Dhaka English daily The Daily Star said here today.
The gloom persisted even though the talks led to the signing of 10 Memorandums of Understanding and protocols covering land boundary to preservation of the Sunderbans and a framework agreement on cooperation for development.
Hours before the Indian Prime Minister's arrival in Dhaka, Bangladesh Foreign Secretary Mijarul Quayes summoned the Indian High Commissioner Rajeet Mitter to the Foreign office demanding an explanation why New Delhi backed out from an earlier commitment to sign the Teesta Accord, the daily said.
New Delhi reportedly agreed to share with Dhaka 50 per cent of the Teesta water in a draft treaty agreed by the two countries during Indian Prime Minister's National Security Adviser Shiv Shankar Menon's visit to Bangladesh last week.
Bangladesh was eagerly waiting for the deal to be signed as this was the key prize Sheikh Hasina's government wanted most from Manmohan Singh's visit.The Teesta dispute has rendered Bangldesh's multi-million taka Teesta irrigation project almost idle for decades.The Teesta failure blocked the hope for deal on sharing the Feni river waters and signing a "letter of exchange" containing Dhaka's consent to let India use Chittagong and Mongla ports to carry goods through Bangladesh territory.
International Relations Professor M Shahiduzzaman at Dhaka University said, "Mamata's refusal to come to Bangladesh is a big blow to Hasina who is dealing with the worst crisis of her political career at the moment", The Daily Star said.