As Rajnath visits enclaves, Mamata questions motivehttps://indianexpress.com/article/cities/kolkata/west-bengal-row-over-rajnath-singhs-visit-to-cooch-behar-enclaves/

As Rajnath visits enclaves, Mamata questions motive

Singh told a rally in Cooch Behar that the enclave issue between India and Bangladesh would be solved very soon.

Rajnath Singh, west bengal, tmc, mamata banerjee
Home Minister Rajnath Singh

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh’s visit to Tin Bigha and its adjoining enclaves — Chit Mahals, on Tuesday triggered a fresh row between the Trinamool Congress government and the BJP.

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee led the charge, raising the propriety of Singh’s visit without informing the state government and allegedly violating principles of federalism. “Today, union home minister has visited Chit Mahal areas (enclaves) in Cooch Behar along with BJP MPs. Is it official visit or political visit,” she tweeted.

In subsequent tweets, she said: “It is customary to have prior discussion in such cases with state government. In a federal structure, we must respect each other’s jurisdiction… No prior discussion or consultation about the visit was made with us. Chit Mahal and law and order fall within the jurisdiction of the state government.”

“Even though I am now in North Bengal with a prior programme, I have only received a fax message of his tour programme,” she claimed.
Singh is on a two-day visit to the state. On Tuesday, he visited Cooch Behar district where most of the enclaves are located. There, while addressing a rally, he said the enclave issue between India and Bangladesh will soon be solved. He later returned to Kolkata and will visit parts of Sunderbans on Wednesday. Mamata is in North Bengal on a three-day official tour of the districts.

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In Kolkata, Trinamool spokesperson and minister Partha Chatterjee said: “They have destroyed the federal structure. They have come at a time when Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is not present here… without informing us, they have been doing everything on their own. This will widen the gap between the state and Centre.”

However, BJP national spokesperson Siddharth Nath Singh — also in-charge of the party’s affairs in Bengal — claimed that on March 25, the Union Home Minister’s office had communicated to the Governor’s office, home secretary, chief secretary and the chief minister about the visit and that there was no breach of protocol.

Accusing Mamata of unnecessarily politicising the visit, he said: “If she is saying she is not aware, then I don’t know what kind of system she is running. It was conveyed on March 25. She wants to politicise the matter as she is unable to control Bangladeshi infiltration and cattle trade.”

Later, the Home Minister said: “Half of the district authorities were present here. Who said no state representative is present here?” He added that if necessary, he will speak to Mamata.

Mamata, who earlier had strong reservations against exchange of enclaves with Bangladesh, has had a change of mind in recent times.
During her visit to Bangaldesh in February, Mamata had assured the Sheikh Hasina government that she has principally accepted the necessity of enclaves’ exchange.

But she had clarified that the interest of the people of West Bengal would have to be kept in mind and adequate compensation offered to the state for rehabilitation of the population affected by the exchange of enclaves and the resultant loss of land boundary. Most of the enclaves to be exchanged with Bangladesh fall within Cooch Behar district.