Confident Mamata will come along to Bangladesh, says Sushma

New Delhi, (IANS) External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said on Sunday that she is “confident” West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee will travel to Bangladesh along with Prime Minister Narendra Modi next week and not do a redux of the 2011 trip with then prime minister Manmohan Singh.

To a query asking if the government was certain Banerjee would not at the last moment decide to drop out of the team, which had caused immense embarrassment to the then government, she said: “She will certainly go, I can say with confidence.”

Sushma Swaraja said that Banerjee would be going to Dhaka to be present during the inking of the Land Boundary Agreement between the two countries.

Asked if any agreement on sharing of Teesta river waters was on the anvil during the trip, she said that both sides have “not reached a stage in discussions to arrive at an agreement” and that any agreement on sharing of the river waters, that runs through both countries, would be made with Banerjee on board.

“Teesta agreement cannot be just between India and Bangladesh; we have to take West Bengal on board.. without consulting her (Banerjee) we cannot hold talks,” she said.

The West Bengal chief minister had dropped off at the last minute from the team set to accompany then prime minister Manmohan Singh in 2011 to Dhaka over her objections to the sharing of Teesta river waters in the agreement set to be inked.

The Teesta agreement is the second of the two outstanding issues that Bangladesh has been pushing India to ink.

The central government has held a few rounds of talks with Banerjee on the quantum of Teesta waters to be shared with lower riparian neighbour Bangladesh, but no agreement has been arrived at so far.

Bangladesh has also been pushing for a river basin agreement with India that would encompass the 54 rivers, including Teesta and Ganga, that flow through both countries. So far, both have inked an agreement on sharing of the Ganga river waters.

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