POST TIME: 24 September, 2018 00:00 00 AM
Modi’s Teesta pledge on the verge of failure

Modi’s Teesta pledge on the verge of failure

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi appears to be on the verge of failing to live up to his pledge made to Sheikh Hasina in April, 2017 that Teesta water sharing agreement will be signed during the tenures of the governments in Delhi and Dhaka. The tenure of Sheikh Hasina will end at the end of the year while Modi’s one will end early next year. The draft of the deal was agreed and initialled by the water resources secretaries of both the countries in January, 2011 and the agreement was supposed to be signed in early September of 2011 during the Dhaka visit of the then Indian Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh. But, the deal could not be inked due to the last minute objection of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.

According to top Bangladeshi officials concerned, it would be a ‘miracle’ if the deal is signed during the tenures of the two governments as there has been no development in respect of the much talked about agreement since the meeting between Hasina and Modi about a year and a half ago.

On April 8 last year, during Hasina’s visit to India, Modi said the Teesta had attracted greatest attention and that the deal will be signed during their tenures.

“Along with our shared land boundaries are our shared rivers. They sustain our peoples and their livelihoods. And, the one that has attracted the greatest attention is the Teesta River. This is important for India, for


Bangladesh and for India-Bangladesh relationship,” he said. “I am very happy that the Chief Minister of West Bengal is my honoured guest today. I know that her feelings for Bangladesh are as warm as my own. I assure you and the people of Bangladesh of our commitment and continuing efforts. I firmly believe that it is only my government and Sheikh Hasina, your government, that can and will find an early solution to Teesta water sharing,” he added.

“No, I don’t think the deal will be signed during the tenure of the present Bangladeshi and Indian governments,” a top diplomat told The Independent.

“The ball’s in India’s court. We had a pledge from the highest office of India and if this is not materialised there is nothing much we can do,” he said.

To a question, the diplomat said, “This issue was not discussed in the bilateral meeting between the two prime ministers on the sidelines of the BIMSTEC summit in Kathmandu on August 30.”

“I will not allow myself to think that the Indian prime minister will be able to live up to his pledge regarding Teesta. There is no such indication,” a top government official said.

“If he (Modi) wants to do it, he will have to do it bypassing the West Bengal state government led by Mamata. Under the federal system of government, that is very unlikely,” he said.

“Given the current strained relationship between Modi and Mamata, it will be a miracle if the West Bengal state government agrees to the signing of the deal,” he added.

“No development,” was the short answer from a senior diplomat, who deals with the affairs with India.

The officials believe that the both Indian central government and West Bengal state government will not want to antagonise the voters ahead of national elections in early next year by signing the deal.

They reminded that the state of West Bengal has large number of seats in Indian lower house of parliament and the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party is trying to make inroads in the state after doing well in recent elections in the north-eastern states.

Bangladesh is paying the price of Indian internal politics, they noted. To a question, a senior official of the foreign ministry said, “Sometimes, strange thing happens in diplomacy. You never know.”