Mamata’s no show for Dhaka embarrasses PM, UPA

September 5th, 2011 - 11:05 pm ICT by IANS  

Mamata Banerjee New Delhi, Sep 5 (IANS) The refusal of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to accompany Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on his two-day visit to Dhaka, where an agreement on the sharing of Teesta waters was scheduled to be signed, has embarrassed UPA managers, Congress party sources said.

With the UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi abroad for treatment, the ruling alliance is in no position to persuade the “temperamental Mamata”, the sources added.

“If Mamata does not reach Dhaka for the historic visit of the prime minister it will be hurting the image of both the UPA and the government. Though prime minister may make a last-minute effort with Mamata, the damage has been already done,” a Congress leader, who declined to be identified, told IANS.

Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, who has sorted several disputes with Banerjee and her Trinamool Congress, has also not commented. The Trinamool has 18 members in the Lok Sabha and is the second largest constituent of the UPA.

“Manmohan Singh’s visit - the first by a prime minister after 12 years - was important for the government as a whole and for the external affairs ministry and the northeast region. While preparing the official and diplomatic documents, the centre appears to have forgotten to do its political homework with Mamata,” political analyst Baalji Sharma said.

Meanwhile, Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai Monday said in New Delhi that there will be no agreement on the sharing of the Teesta river waters without the consultation of the West Bengal government.

“Nothing is done and nothing will be done without the consultation with the state government,” Mathai told reporters. Banerjee has refused to accompany the prime minister to Dhaka to protest the final draft of the Teesta river water sharing agreement with Bangladesh.

The Teesta, which begins its journey in Sikkim, flows through north Bengal before entering Bangladesh.

“There was a difference between the initial draft of the agreement and the final version. The state government had agreed on sharing of up to 25,000 cusecs. But the final version talks of sharing 33,000-50,000 cusecs,” a source close to Banerjee had said in Kolkata.

A Trinamool Congress leader, who preferred to remain annonymous, told IANS that the “crisis has happened because the centre took the West Bengal government and our leader (Banerjee) for granted”.

“Ultimately it is for our leader to face the people, if an accord concerning their primary interests is signed,” he added.

The other river on the India-Bangladesh discussion table is the Feni.

The Feni, which flows 135 km south of Tripura capital Agartala, has been in dispute since 1934. In a total catchment area of 1,147 square km of the river, 535 square km falls in India and the rest in Bangladesh.

On the Feni river, Mathai said that things were as per plan.

Manmohan Singh will now be accompanied by the chief ministers of Tripura, Meghalaya and Mizoram on the trip that comes four decades after the India-Pakistan war had led to the birth of Bangladesh.

Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi will reach Dhaka separately.

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