In continuity of the past, the prime minister wrote to the West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee expressing her interest to meet her. Mamata alleged she could not meet due to the centre. What is your opinion?

This is an internal affair of India. This is up to them whether the central government would invite the chief minister of West Bengal or not. There is little scope for personal thinking or emotion. In accordance with the institutional system of India, she may get invitation or not. It does not seem the letter of our prime minister or request is taken into consideration.

Election winds are blowing in the politics of both the countries. Elections will be held in both the countries within one and half years to two years. How will you explain the political significance of this trip?

When the prime ministers of two countries meet, the issue of politics naturally comes up for discussion. As they represent two countries, they taken on the responsibility of the government or the state. The issue of politics should not be considered here. However, it is natural that a trust has been built between two leaders as they know each other and are working together for long. They may have good wishes for each other. I don't think that is unusual. Shared values of democracy and popularity have been described in Article 2 of the joint statement as the basis of relations. The relation of two countries should run on that basis.

How do you view the fact that foreign minister Abdul Momen was dropped from the list of prime minister's tour at the last moment?

It is the jurisdiction of the prime minister as to who will accompany her. She takes the decision. I have no comment in this regard. However, the absence of the foreign minister during this trip is significant. Discussions took place over this. It would be better if there was no such discussion. If there is negative discussion, this is not positive for the image of the government.

India has made a proposal to construct a road to connect West Bengal and Meghalaya through Bangladesh. Once they made a proposal for building connectivity through river route. Are they getting transit facilities?

The issues of connectivity have been emphasised strongly this time. I think there is hurry here. Have we evaluated the projects which have been taken for connectivity in the last ten years? On the basis of that evaluation, we have to take the next course of action. For example, only 16-17 per cent of line of credit has been released so far in 10 years. If the amount of released funds is such, it is clear that there are deficiencies on the both sides in implementing the project. Now it is good to hear the proposal of new connectivity. But we have to see whether it is pragmatic. Not only connectivity, there are other issues including environment that are important. Those must be taken into consideration. Such connectivity should not be built merely on relations between the two countries. How much connectivity will be useful for the people of the country, must be taken into consideration. Bangladesh rejected Indian proposal of river linking. Like the river linking project, the road connectivity project is also sensitive and complex. So the proposal of road connectivity should be taken into consideration.

Thank you

Thank you too

*This interview, originally published in Prothom Alo print and online editions, has been rewritten in English by Rabiul Islam.

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