17 June, 2021

Jyotibabu’s Bangla Coup

The Ganga water agreement will improve India’s diplomatic image and Indo-Bangladesh ties

Jyotibabu’s Bangla Coup

FINALLY, India and Bangladesh are on the verge of signing an agreement on the Ganga waters. This is a dispute that has come to define bilateral ties in recent years—so much so that Dhaka has gone to the UN, complaining about India’s ‘negative’ attitude. There have been, over the years, protracted talks: but an accord on the amount of water India would release from the Farakka barrage remained elusive.

The turnaround can entirely be credited to West Bengal Chief Minister Jyoti Basu, who recently spent six days in Dhaka on an invitation from Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wajed. The primary aim: to discuss the water problem. In fact, it was a clever move on the part of External Affairs Minister Inder Kumar Gujral to involve Basu directly in the negotiations. He is believed to have told Basu that he will sign on anything the latter agrees to in Dhaka. Officials in the Water Resources and External Affairs Ministries don’t want to discuss, until the pact is signed, the exact quantum of water to be given to Bangladesh. But...

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