Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee will have a formal meeting with Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Friday.
Till Thursday afternoon, it was not clear if Ms. Hasina would have a one-on-one meeting with Ms. Banerjee, but the Bengal Chief Minister broke her silence to announce that a meeting has been finalised.
“There will be a courtesy meeting at 6 p.m. at Taj Bengal. It was decided today [Thursday] morning only,” Ms. Banerjee told journalists.
The Bangladesh Prime Minister will land in Kolkata in the early hours to watch the first day and night test match on Friday.
The meeting is immensely significant considering that West Bengal and Bangladesh are still not on the same page regarding the sharing of the vital north Bengal river, the Teesta, during the lean season. It is thus expected that the Bangladesh PM and Bengal CM will discuss the issue of sharing of river water.
However, when Ms. Hasina confirmed her Kolkata visit in Dhaka a few weeks back, she had said that she had no intention of discussing water sharing. “Do not bring water issues in sports,” Ms. Hasina said.
Ms. Banerjee said that, during the course of the day, she will be meeting Ms. Hasina thrice. “We will meet in the afternoon at Eden Gardens and then in a cultural programme, also at Eden. Following which, we will have the courtesy meeting,” Ms. Banerjee said.
Ms. Hasina will leave Kolkata on Friday night.
Ms. Hasina’s visit comes two days after Home Minister Amit Shah’s announcement that the National Register of Citizens will be implemented across the country. It was indicated earlier by Bengal’s cricket association officials that Mr. Shah “may join” Ms. Hasina and Ms. Banerjee at Eden Garden on the first day of the match. But on Thursday night, neither the officials nor the State BJP leaders confirmed Mr. Shah’s visit. He launched his party’s election campaign in neighbouring Jharkhand on Thursday.
In the impromptu press conference, Ms. Banerjee also said that she is “against disinvestment.”
“Cashless society cannot work in India. People do not have money, buying has reduced. Industry or agriculture cannot function due to lack of money. There is a problem and disinvestment cannot address it,” Ms. Banerjee said.
Highlighting that 45 organisations were disinvested earlier, Ms. Banerjee said that the Bharatiya Janata Party’s target to generate “[₹]1.8 lakh crore” is sounding ominous.
The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs green signalled the asset sale of five public sector companies on Wednesday.
“Even Bharat Petroleum is being folded. Repeated disinvestment is not good for the country, this will activate disasters,” Ms. Banerjee said. She proposed an all-party meeting to deal with the ongoing economic crisis.