Mamata Banerjee, the chief minister of the Indian state of West Bengal, appears to have taken offense with the burning of an effigy of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina by a right-wing group in Kolkata.
The Vishwa Hindu Parishad, a Hindu extremist group, held this demo outside the Bangladesh Deputy High Commission in Kolkata in protest of what they say is the persecution of Hindus in the country.
Mamata, whose interpositions have kept the crucial Teesta River water sharing treaty between Dhaka and Delhi from happening for six years, inflicting a major dent in bilateral ties, appeared upset with this insult against Sheikh Hasina.
She wrote a letter to the BJP-led central government asking it to reign in the Parishad's unruly activists, saying this disrespectful gesture towards Hasina would not bode well for India-Bangladesh ties.
Hindu Parishad members shouted slogans against the Bangladesh government at their protest on July 1, which Mamata's government permitted to be held in front of the deputy high commission. They also submitted a memorandum to the commission that said the Bangladesh government had failed to protect the minority Hindu community.
Two weeks after that protest, a letter was sent from the West Bengal chief minister's office to Union Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj. In that letter, Mamata demanded that the centre control the Hindu Parishad's behaviour.
“The manner in which the Viswa Hindu Parishad protested in Kolkata that day does not bode well for India-Bangladesh diplomatic relations. If the Indian government truly wants Dhaka on its side, it should control the unruly behaviour of the Sangh Parivar and its members,” Mamata wrote in the letter.
Hindu Parishad and several other right wing Hindu nationalist organisations are members of the umbrella organisation Sangh Parivar, along with Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), which is considered the parent organisation of the ruling BJP party.
Hindu Parishad meanwhile reacted derisively to Mamata's letter.
“First of all, we don't take orders from the BJP government in Delhi. So it is unclear what it means when she asks the central government to control us,” Parishad spokesperson Vinod Bansal told the Bangla Tribune.
“Second, the Parishad is willing to listen to anyone but Mamata Banerjee about what will improve Bangladesh-India ties,” he added.
Parishad sources also said that although Sheikh Hasina was a great friend of India, “she must take responsibility for the persecution of Hindus in Bangladesh and take measures to protect the Hindus.”
The Viswa Hindu Parishad did not feel that bilateral ties would be affected if it reminds her of those responsibilities.
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj appeared in front of the press in Delhi the same day, but she or the ministry officials did not comment about Mamata's letter.
This story was first published on the Bangla Tribune