PM Narendra Modi, Mamata Banerjee Will Meet At Dinner. New Tension Possibly Lurks

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PM Narendra Modi, Mamata Banerjee Will Meet At Dinner. New Tension Possibly Lurks

This will be the first meeting between PM Narendra Modi and Mamata Banerjee in months.


Kolkata: 

Highlights

  1. Mamata Banerjee to meet PM at dinner for Sheikh Hasina
  2. Bangladesh wants water-sharing agreement for River Teesta
  3. Mamata Banerjee has in the past opposed terms of treaty
For the first time in nearly eight months, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Prime Minister Narendra Modi could meet later this week. The occasion: a dinner for Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, who lands in Delhi on Friday.

During her visit, Bangladesh and India are likely to sign up to 35 agreements and memoranda of understanding. Some will boost bilateral trade and investment and cooperation in the energy sector as well as better security along the highly-porous border between the two countries.

India is also expected to announce a fresh credit worth about $5 billion for infrastructure projects like railways, roads and waterways as Delhi moves to counter China's influence in neighbouring countries, including Bangladesh. Last year, Dhaka bought two submarines from China. India is prepped to sign a defense deal with Bangladesh during Sheikh Hasina's trip.

VIP status, however, is vested in a water-sharing treaty for the River Teesta, a cross-boundary river like the Ganga. India has promised to resolve long-running differences, but Ms Banerjee said just days ago, "I have not been told anything about the treaty."
 
modi sheikh hasina mamata

PM Modi, Sheikh Hasina and Mamata Banerjee in Dhaka in 2015.

She said she would not serve as "a rubber stamp" and will need assurance from the Prime Minister that West Bengal's interests are not being compromised in a water-sharing deal that has been in negotiations for nearly two decades.

An earlier attempt by then-Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to sign the treaty when he visited Dhaka in 2011 was truncated by Ms Banerjee's opposition - she pulled out of the trip.

Sources in her office indicated that the Chief Minister could seek a meeting with PM Modi to discuss the deal. If that happens, it will be their first encounter in a period of extreme tension between their parties, some of which rests in Ms Banerjee's strident opposition to the PM's demonetisation move.

India and Bangladesh share nearly 50 rivers; only the waters of one are governed by an agreement.

For Sheikh Hasina, progress on a water-sharing agreement will be a huge accomplishment to show off before Bangladesh votes for its next government in 2018.


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