Mamata Banerjee is back to power again. She has taken oath as Chief Minister of West Bengal for a third term after leading her party to a landslide victory. Her party Trinomool Congress has defeated Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress-CPM alliance. Our Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has extended her heartfelt congratulations to the Trinomool Congress Chief Mamata Banerjee on taking oath as the Chief Minister of West Bengal for a third straight term. “The huge victory of the Trinomool Congress in the Assembly elections of 2021 is a reflection of deep-rooted trust of the West Bengal people in you,” she said in a congratulatory message sent to Mamata Banerjee on Thursday soon after she was sworn in as the Chief Minister. It is worth mentioning that our Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has a very good personal relation with Mamata.
There is a growing concern in Bangladesh that the Teesta water sharing issue could not be signed because of the negative stand of Mamata. Mamata as a political leader should obviously think about the welfare of her people. But she should not forget that she is also a Bengali and the people of Bangladesh expect something more from the Bengali Chief Minister of West Bengal. She has said that she maintains a good relation with Sheikh Hasina and she loves the people of Bangladesh. We must not forget what great sacrifice was made by the people of West Bengal during the War of Liberation in 1971. They gave shelter to one crore people. We cannot forget that. That is why the people of Bangladesh are grateful to the people and government of India. We are especially grateful to the people of West Bengal.
If there is any misunderstanding between West
Bengal and Bangladesh it should be
resolved in the interest of both
We know that the government of West Bengal needs water of Teesta as we need the water similarly. A large part of north Bengal remains dry due to non-availability of water during summer and the area is submerged under water when it does not need water. The people of north Bengal are poor as they cannot produce sufficient food grain for want of water and during monsoon the supply of water in excess destroys their crops. Teesta is a common river flowing both through India and Bangladesh although the upper part of the river flows in India.
So the sharing of water should be on equality basis. The Chief Minister of West Bengal should try to understand the legitimate demand of Bangladesh. The people of Bangladesh cannot be deprived of getting due share of Teesta river. It is said that the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, wants to share water as per international law but the Chief Minister stands on the way. Many say that the Prime Minister of India blamed Chief Minister of Bengal for not allowing him to sign the agreement as the problem is between West Bengal and Bangladesh and the central government could not enforce its decision since the Chief Minister belongs to a different political party.
Whatever is the reality Bangladesh should maintain good relation with both central government and state government. Our people strongly feel that the problem should not linger further. A lot of time has elapsed but the problem is still there. This time since Mamata is back to power again, she should change her mindset. She should feel that the people of Bangladesh want justice from her.
We in Bangladesh feel for the people of Bengal who are also Bengalees. We share common language and culture. We the Bengalees of both Bangladesh and West Bengal maintain a very cordial relation. We have been living in the region since the pre-independent era. For this we share the joy of Mamata’s victory for the third time. Since the central government promised to resolve the Teesta water sharing issue the provincial government should not stand on the way. Rather Mamata should show more willingness to solve not only the sharing of Teesta water issue but also all others disputes through mutual cooperation and understanding.
All related issue should be resolved bilaterally with proper understanding. We want friendly relation with India mostly with West Bengal. Kolkata should come up with cooperative mind than Delhi to resolve all outstanding issues with its close neighbor as the common problems may affect both Bangladesh and West Bengal. If there is any misunderstanding between West Bengal and Bangladesh it should be removed in the interest of both.
It is time to resolve the Teesta and all other issues amicably and bilaterally. International river commission is the last resort that Bangladesh may need to go if India does not cooperate to resolve the issues. That would be a step not accepted to the people of India and Bangladesh.
Dr S A Malek is former political adviser to the Prime Minister and Member of Parliament, general secretary of Bangabandhu Parishad and columnist