During this year's Durga Puja, Bangladesh is likely to export the prized hilsa fish to India as well.
Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi told PTI that he raised the issue of hilsa exports with West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee during his visit to Kolkata earlier this week, noting that the Bangladeshi response to her demand has always been positive, reports The New Indian Express.
"Mamata-di told me, 'Hasina-ji ke ilish pathate bolben' (tell Sheikh Hasina to send hilsa -- this year too)," Munshi said, indicating that the Bangladeshi response would be considered in a positive spirit, given the good relations.
"Our prime minister Sheikh Hasina made a special exemption during the Durga Puja festivities for India, because we know the fish is special during that season," said Munshi.
Bangladesh exported about 2,500 tons of the fish during the last Durga Puja to India, most of which were snapped up in Kolkata's markets.
Sheikh Hasina has used exports and gifts of hilsa as part of her diplomacy toolkit with India since 1996 when she first became the prime minister of Bangladesh. Her first gift of hilsa was to Jyoti Basu, the then chief minister of West Bengal.
In 2013, when the then Indian President Pranab Mukherjee went to an official dinner during his trip to Dhaka, she laid out a large banquet where hilsa was the main offering, knowing fully well 'Pranab-da's' love for the fish.
In 2016, ahead of Mamata Banerjee's swearing-in ceremony, a gift of 20 kg of the prized fish was specially flown in for her table as part of the congratulatory message.