Anybody winning a tightly and a very controversial election deserves to be congratulated and the re-election of India's fiery West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee deserves even more as she has won a prestige fight against the ruling rightwing Bharitiya Janata Party. A hearty congratulation!
It was one of the "biggest political victories in the past three decades" as per India's leading The Hindu newspaper, and indeed it drew the attention of the world, including Bangladesh. She is set to take her oath of office on tomorrow (5 May) in a small ceremony due to COVID-19 with the challenge of making her domestic promises a reality and fight the new variant of the deadly bug from entering West Bengal.
Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen has spoken on the win as per diplomatic norms, but stressed on strengthening bilateral ties. We agree too as West Bengal is part of India and Dhaka-New Delhi has strengthened ties with Prime Minister Narendra Modi joining Bangladesh's 50 years of Independence despite a worsening coronavirus situation.
The two major South Asian countries have to work together to deter any third force trying to make entry into the region as well as deliver its people by cooperating on issues that are of utmost importance.
Since 2011, Bangladesh has been waiting to get the agreement on sharing of water of Teesta river as its northern parts is facing increasing desertification due to inadequate flow of water from the upper reach. It is negatively contributing to the already other factors linked to climate age. The Teesta river is a tributary of the Brahmaputra and originates in the Teesta Kangse glacier and flows through the state of Sikkim and West Bengal before entering Bangladesh. An ad hoc arrangement on sharing of Teesta waters was made in 1983, with India receiving 39 percent of the water and Bangladesh 36 percent of it. The Teesta river issue assumed significance after the conclusion of the Ganga Water Treaty in 1996.
In 2011, India agreed to share 37.5 percent of Teesta waters while retaining 42.5 percent of the waters during the lean season between December and March. But the deal could not be implemented due to opposition from Mamata Banerjee.
Thus for re-elected Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee her foremost international and regional commitment must be made on issues relating to Bangladesh, especially the Teesta river water sharing agreement.
Narendra Modi has repeatedly assured his Bangladesh counterpart, Sheikh Hasina, of an early solution to issue after the West Bengal polls, which he lost but gracefully admitted defeat and congratulated the winner soon after the results were out.
We look forward to the solution of the Teesta river issue in her first 100 days, which will be another landmark in her political career. Every problem has a solution, especially among "true friends."
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