Bangladesh Prime Minister Hasina and Mamata talk about cultural relations, bypass Teesta water

Mamata said, “We discussed about cultural, educational and business exchanges between two Bengals and both of us agreed that we need to foster communal harmony within West Bengal and Bangladesh.

Published: 26th May 2018 09:25 PM  |   Last Updated: 26th May 2018 09:25 PM   |  A+A-

Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. (File photo)

Express News Service

KOLKATA: Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee held an hour-long closed-door meeting at a south Kolkata hotel here on Saturday discussing cultural relations between the two Bengals. However, the bone of contention between the partitioned region – sharing of Teesta water – was carefully bypassed in the meeting.

Interacting with media after the meeting, Mamata Banerjee said: “We discussed about cultural, educational and business exchanges between the two Bengals and both of us agreed that we need to foster communal harmony within West Bengal and Bangladesh. Relations between the two Bengals have already been cordial.”

Both Sheikh Hasina and Mamata Banerjee exchanged mangoes, sweets and saris before the meet. “I have known Hasina and her family even before she became the Prime Minister. I have sought her permission to build Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Bhaban in Kolkata and they want to renovate a Kolkata property that has memories of Sheikh Mujib. I was invited to visit Bangladesh and I have asked her to revisit West Bengal,” she added.

However, the West Bengal Chief Minister did not reply to queries on whether the Teesta water sharing issue was discussed. Earlier attempts by India and Bangladesh to sign an agreement on sharing of Teesta river water were vetoed by Mamata Banerjee reasoning that the agreement will harm the interests of West Bengal.

Sources revealed that the meeting was not a part of the original itinerary of Sheikh Hasina but was later added after Bangladesh Deputy High Commission in Kolkata requested Mamata Banerjee for holding
the meeting.

On the other hand, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina was conferred with an honorary DLitt from Kazi Nazrul University in Asansol of Paschim Burdwan district on Saturday.

Speaking at the convocation of the university, the Bangladesh Prime Minister urged students to inculcate the secular ideals of the Kazi Nazrul Islam, who is the national poet of her nation, in them. “Kazi Nazul Islam was motivated by the non-communal spirit and we are building Bangladesh with the same non-communal spirit. I request you, students, to inculcate the same spirit in your work and put humanity above anything else in not only work but also your personal life,” she said.

The honorary DLitt was conferred upon Sheikh Hasina for her contributions towards building a disparity and exploitation-free society, which was the ideal of Kazi Nazrul Islam.

The Bangladesh Prime Minister also visited the residence of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose on Elgin Road in central Kolkata which has been rechristened as ‘Netaji Bhavan’ by the West Bengal government.

“The light of freedom lighted by Netaji had motivated Bangladesh liberation struggle. Had Netaji not fought for freedom, we would not have gotten independence from British colonial rule. I draw inspiration from him. Wherever he remains, he will always live in the memories of the Bengalis,” she said. The Bangladesh Prime Minister will return to Dhaka later on Saturday evening.

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