Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee rang the ceremonial bell to signal the start of the second Test match between Bangladesh and India at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata on November 22, 2019.
It has been termed historic from various angles, reported and commented in the press of two Bengals which will be gradually unfolded with restoring free communication, trade and commerce, sports and cultural interactions in the natural course removing obstructions benefit Bengalis.
There had been lot of euphoria and expectations in the talks countrywide and columns appeared in Bangladesh national dailies that carried reports and articles of Kolkata journalists. There is no free flow of newspapers between Dhaka and Kolkata.
Thankfully PM Sheikh Hasina went from Dhaka to Kolkata in the morning of November 22 with an entourage graced this occasion and returned at night to Dhaka attending all programs. She had excusive courtesy meeting with Mamata Banerjee after the first session of Test match at Taj Bengal Hotel for an hour followed by Photo session.
At Test Venue Eden Gardens PM Sheikh Hasina was received by Indian state of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and new Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) President Sourav Ganguly. He was President of Cricket Association of Bengal before, who left no stone unturned in making the occasion memorable, which was set in motion by Ganguly invited PM Seikh Hasina as Chief Guest.
He invited Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. Hasina instantly accepted it. Later Indian PM Modi invited Hasina to make it official which he could not attend for his previous program. In his place Home Minister Amit Shah was to attend.
Meanwhile, his son Joy Shah Secretary of BCCI was introduced by Ganguly to Mamata who in pleasant conversation enquired about heath condition of Amit Shah, very consciously avoiding politics. Cricket legend Shachin Tendulkar stepped in. Mamata talked at ease with him and joy at B C Roy Club House lounge for some time.
It was Indian subcontinent's first day-night Test Match with Pink Ball. It was a day to cherish for over 50,000 fans thronged the Eden gardens for a special occasion, which by itself a triumph in modern Test cricket in the subcontinent. The players of both sides were introduced to Hasina and Mamata amidst sportsman spirit and gaiety equal to the occasion.
Indian legends like Sachin Tendulkar, Sunil Gavaskar, Kapil Dev, Ganguly, Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman paraded around the ground during the supper and tea intervals. It was ended with a cultural program featuring popular Bangladeshi singer Runa Laila, arranged by Cricket Association of Bengal.
Along with many former Indian legends, all members of Bangladesh team that played the country's first Test against India in November 2000 were also invited. There was much to celebrate on the field by Bengalis in West Bengal as well as those who made the trek from Bangladesh. City of joy Kolkata wore pink colour and flashed light gave delight to the people.
True to Bengali culture Mamata behaved sisterly as younger to elder Hasina warmly and respectfully all the time which was reciprocated with affectionate words of Hasina. Mamata took Hasina at the dinning place and extended hospitality to her and entourage and the guests at supper like the mistress of a house.
She then left for Nabanna. Hasina said affectionately Mamata is always busy, cannot sit for a moment, to which she nodded politely and said she always feel to do some work, and cannot sit in one place. Hopefully, Bangladesh entourage members have not missed this interaction but taken note of it.
It was reported dull Bangladesh Team dampen Eden spectacle. It faced defeat abjectly in an utterly one sided match that raised question about capability of the players as well as management Bangladesh Cricket Board which of late undergone scathing criticisms await rectification.
Bangladeshi batsmen had not the temperament of playing Test Match and defeated in two and a quarter day. Bangladesh side played 71.4 over in all in two innings. It was the lowest over batting in its cricket history of 19 years.
There is no doubt that absence of two senior Shakib al Hasan and Tamim Iqbal had reduced strength of the Team; but other cricketers had no mentality of fighting temperament. Change of mentality is needed to perform well in Test Cricket; Ganguly advised the Tigers which should not go in vain in Bangladeshi style; but PM's entourage member Bangladesh Cricket Board President Nazmul Hasan Papan MP would respond with action in compliance.
Hour-long talks between Hasina and Mamata in the evening of November 22 were nice and promising. Mamata told there is huge demand for bicycles in West Bengal.
Bangladesh can utilize this opportunity by exporting bicycles to West Bengal. Alternatively, Bangladeshi entrepreneurs could set up joint venture bicycle industries in West Bengal and her government would allocate land for them or in the country's bordering areas, which would reduce transportation cost.
She put emphasis on cooperation in the fields of education, healthcare and industries. It indicates economic growth path West Bengal is treading along with environmental concerns ensuring pollution free air, roads not congested with cars, effective utilization of scarce land and equitable distribution of income.
The rate of economic growth in this Indian state is stated to be 8% per annum. Bangladesh planners and implementers may take note of it.As regards controversial Teesta water sharing issue or NRC, Hasina and Mamata did not speak to the questioners. On Teesta, it was gathered from sources and reported in print media, Mamata informed Hasina it is in the hand of Central Government.
Chief Minister Mamata said they had a very cordial meeting in which they discussed a lot of bilateral issues; hoped relationship between two countries would flourish further in the days to come. We hope so punctuating sentiments of Bengalis in this region, Insha'Allah.
The writer is an economist,
advocate and columnist.
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