Getting off from her flight in Kolkata after her five day visit in Bhutan the West Bengal Chief Minister described her visit as ‘historic’ to the waiting Indian press saying it would bring the two countries as well as Bhutan and West Bengal closer together.
She said that she was overwhelmed by the hospitality of her hosts and that she had invited the Bhutanese Prime Minister Lyonchhen Tshering Tobgay for a ‘Biswa Bangla Sammelan’ (Word Bengal Conference), on January 8th and 9th.
The Chief Minister in her first ever visit to Bhutan was here from 5th to 9th October.
The meeting had various aspects. One was the meeting with various top Bhutanese leaders. Mamata Banerjee brought a large 19 member delegation comprising of members of her cabinet and senior bureaucrats.
She met the Prime Minister and the and Economic Affairs Minister on Monday followed by an audience with His Majesty the King and Her Majesty the Queen on Tuesday. On Wednesday she met the Foreign Minister Lyonpo Damcho Dorji followed by a lunch hosted by His Majesty the Fourth King on Thursday.
In the meetings with the Prime Minister and other ministers the main focus of the meeting was on strengthening relations between the two sides with a special focus on trade and investment in areas like agriculture, tourism etc.
The Prime Minister in his meeting raised the Golden Jubilee Railway line which had so far been given a burial due to land acquisition issues. The West Bengal CM said she would review the issue but in her comments to the press she said that land cannot be forcibly acquired.
The other important aspect of her meeting was a business conclave on Monday where in addition to the CM the meeting had the Minister for Economic Affairs and businessmen from both the Indian Chamber of Commerce, Kolkata and the Bhutan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI).
The business conclave saw the Chief Minister calling for more trade and investment between Bhutan and West Bengal and she stressed her commitment to do more. The MoEA Minister also asked for investments into Bhutan. Ideas in tourism, industrial manufacturing, business corridors and etc came up including an actual investment proposal from a Graphite factory.
The meeting with the Foreign minister apart from touching on economic cooperation also touched on border security. This is relevant given the Foreign Minister’s experience in the matter as the former home minister.
The West Bengal Chief Minister was clearly happy with the hospitality extended to her and she said so much so in her Facebook page. One incident was about the Prime Minister driving the Chief Minister in her Maruti Swift car to see an ailing journalist friend of hers.
The Chief Minister departed on Friday and though it was not in the program the Prime Minister came off to see the CM.