January 2, 2009

Jyoti Basu hail Sheikh Hasina's landslide victory

Kolkata, Dec 30 : The former Chief Minister of West Bengal, Jyoti Basu, has hailed the win of Sheikh Hasina and wished the people of Bangladesh well. The veteran politician, who was on very good terms with Ms. Hasina during her previous tenure in the mid-90s, said: “I congratulate Sheikh Hasina and her party the Awami League, and my good wishes for the people of Bangladesh.”

“I knew the late Mujibur Rahman (father of Sheikh Hasina and chief architect of Bangladesh) from the days when he was involved in student organisations and I had very cordial relations with him,” the nonagenarian leader said. “She called on me at my residence when she came visiting to India,” he said.

He reminisced that he has known the Awami League leader for long – “since the days when she was the Prime Minister of Bangladesh.” He also talked on the India-Bangladesh Water Treaty signed during those times.

It may be mentioned that the treaty on sharing of Ganga Waters at Farakka in West Bengal was described by India as a landmark in the bilateral relations between the two countries. The role played by Mr. Basu too was lauded in a suo motu statement in the Rajya Sabha made by External Affairs Minister I.K. Gujral on December 12, 1996, on the visit of Sheikh Hasina and the signing of the treaty. Mr. Gujral had placed on record the Centre’s appreciation and the “very constructive role played by the Chief Minister of West Bengal and his Cabinet colleagues in bringing about an improved atmosphere in which the treaty between India and Bangladesh has become possible.”

Mr. Basu also spoke about the bus service introduced between India and Bangladesh three years later (in 1999), linking Kolkata and Dhaka. This was the first such link between the two countries and was seen as restoration of commercial road transport between the two major cities. “I had also gone with the then Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee to Dhaka at that time,” Mr. Basu said
West Bengal ruling Left Front chairman Biman Basu also hailed the victory of the Awami League. Basu said Hasina was able to rally behind her maximum number of people of Bangladesh for the restoration of democracy in that country.

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