Prime Minister Narendra Modi is keen to take West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee along when he visits Bangladesh, possibly in early June.
In what seems to be yet another attempt by him to reach out to the Trinamool Congress supremo, Modi invited Mamata to join him on his forthcoming visit to Dhaka. Prime Minister extended the invitation to West Bengal Chief Minister during his visit to Kolkata on May 9 and 10.
Sources, however, said that the chief minister has already indicated her willingness to accompany the Prime Minister to Dhaka, if she did not have any preoccupation on the dates he would choose for visiting the neighbouring country.
Diplomats of India and Bangladesh are discussing the possibility of scheduling the visit in the first week of June, but they are yet to finalise the dates.
This is going to be Modi’s first visit to Dhaka after taking over as Prime Minister. He, however, had meetings with his Bangladesh counterpart Sheikh Hasina in New York and Kathmandu in September and November last year on the sidelines of UN General Assembly and SAARC summit respectively.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has of late been trying to expand its footprint in West Bengal and has been criticising the Trinamool Congress government in the state. But the never-seen-before bonhomie between Modi and Mamata during the Prime Minister’s visit to the state on May 9 and 10 fuelled speculations about an imminent thaw.
Mamata had in September 2011 opted out of then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s entourage to Bangladesh, protesting against New Delhi’s bid to strike a deal with Dhaka for sharing water of Teesta river.
She had argued that the farmers of West Bengal depend much on water of Teesta and the deal would hit them hard.
Though her protest stalled the deal on Teesta, Singh’s visit saw an additional protocol be added to the 1974 India-Bangladesh land boundary agreement in order to resolve pending disputes on un-demarcated stretches, by facilitating exchange of 111 Indian enclaves in Bangladesh with 51 Bangladesh enclaves in India and preserving status quo in adversely possessed land.
Modi’s invitation comes close on the heels of change in the TMC stand on the issue of ratification of the India-Bangladesh land boundary agreement. It may also see the end of impasse over the proposed agreement for sharing water of river Teesta, as Mamata has toned down her opposition to the deal.