Assam in, Govt OKs India-Bangladesh border swap deal

The bill will require endorsement and ratification by at least 50 per cent of the state legislatures before it comes into effect.

Written by Pradeep Kaushal | New Delhi | Updated: May 6, 2015 6:12 am
Land Boundary Agreement, Land Boundary dispute, LBA bill, Narendra Modi, India-Bangladesh land swap deal, India-Bangladesh Land Boundary dispute, Bangladesh, Land Boundary Agreement explained, indian express explained, explained indian express The government had earlier circulated an amendment to the original bill, pending since December 2013, which sought to exclude Assam from the land-transfer deal.

Clearing the decks for ratification and operationalisation of a historic land boundary agreement between India and Bangladesh, the Union Cabinet cleared Tuesday a constitutional amendment bill for consideration and adoption by the two houses of Parliament.

Also Read: Assam inclusion paves the way for boundary pact

The bill — The Constitution (119th Amendment) Bill, 2013 — now includes territories in Assam, West Bengal, Meghalaya and Tripura for exchange with Bangladesh. Many of these are enclaves (territory belonging to one country entirely surrounded by the other country), even enclaves within enclaves.

Also Read: Aap mujh pe bharosa rakhiye, PM Narendra Modi told Sheikh Hasina 

The bill will require endorsement and ratification by at least 50 per cent of the state legislatures before it comes into effect.
“It will come up in Rajya Sabha tomorrow,” Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu said.

Also Read: India Bangladesh border swap deal evokes sharp reactions in Assam

The government had earlier circulated an amendment to the original bill, pending since December 2013, which sought to exclude Assam from the land-transfer deal.

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The BJP planned to honour an international agreement, signed by the UPA II, but at the same time keep Assam out of the land-transfer plan since it didn’t want to be seen as handing over territory ahead of state elections in 2016.

The BJP considers Assam within striking distance — in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, it secured seven of the 14 seats and a vote-share of 36.5 per cent.

Also Read: Don’t exclude Assam from Bangladesh land swap deal, Gogoi tells Modi

But the Congress, which is in power in Assam, put a spanner in the BJP works by insisting that the Centre include Assam in the bill.
“The Congress, CPM (which rules Tripura) and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee are all on board,” Venkaiah Naidu said. He attributed this to wide consultations which External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, he and other senior BJP leaders held with Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad, his deputy Anand Sharma and leaders of other parties.

Listing the merits of the bill, Naidu said it was in the larger public interest — it would enable India to fence and seal the border, checking infiltration and smuggling; reduce travel distance; imply gain of more land than loss.

The Cabinet decision came after a high-level meeting at the residence of BJP president Amit Shah, attended by Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Sushma Swaraj, Venkaiah Naidu and RSS joint general secretary Krishna Gopal, point man for the BJP.

They considered the possible fallout of the bill on BJP poll prospects in Assam. State BJP leaders continue to have reservations on the land transfer. Naidu conceded that Assam party leaders “do have some issues” but maintained they would “naturally” go along with the stand of the leadership.

Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi had blocked BJP plans to exclude the state from the original bill via an amendment by writing to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, urging him not to take recourse to such a move. In September 2011, when India and Bangladesh signed the protocol, Gogoi had accompanied then prime minister Manmohan Singh to Dhaka.

He told Modi: “We are completely in the dark about the reasons behind this turnaround and how the interest of the people of Assam is going to be protected by the exclusion of the clauses relating to Assam during the process of ratification by Parliament… This decision is also against the principles of cooperative federalism which you have been advocating.”

Pointing out that provisions of the protocol were an integral part of the 1974 agreement between India and Bangladesh, Gogoi said: “As a result of the protocol, the Radcliffe Line demarcating the India-Bangladesh border in the Assam sector namely Lathitilla-Dumabari sector in Karimganj district, Kalabari (Boroibari) area in Dhubri district and the Pallathal area in Karimganj district will be re-drawn as agreed to in the protocol.”

Reminding the Prime Minister that during his visit to Assam in November 2014 he had said Protocol 2011 to the Indo-Bangladesh Boundary Agreement, 1974 would benefit Assam in the long run, Gogoi said: “The agreement, if ratified along with the clauses relating to Assam sector, would not only lead to a permanent solution to the long standing India-Bangladesh border disputes in the Assam sector but also facilitate demarcation of undemarcated areas in Lathitilla-Dumabari.”

BOX: People want it: Mamata
JALPAIGURI: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said Tuesday her government supported the land boundary agreement with Bangladesh as the people wanted it and sought a package from the Centre for rehabilitation of those affected. “Our involvement of land is 17,000 acre. Some 60,000-70,000 people will come. We have demanded a package for their accommodation, food, for building roads, schools etc… It is a humanitarian problem.” — PTI

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  1. A
    Aditya
    May 6, 2015 at 12:04 pm
    Did you even read the article? Its an old deal approved by UPA-II (one of the few good things that came out of that government) being honoured by the present government.
    Reply
  2. D
    Dillip Patnaik
    May 6, 2015 at 6:13 am
    Can you present a map of land swap so the public of India will no which part of India going to Bangladesh and part is coming to India. Is it good for India's strategic interest or not. This should be debated and then the government will decide. This decision should not be oneway street keeping the majority Indians in blind spot.
    Reply
  3. S
    satyendra singh
    May 6, 2015 at 3:35 pm
    Dilip sir, These are our representatives whom we have send to the parliament to take such decisions within the parameters of consution. it has been debated by them and they are taking the right decision. it can not be debated by people once again by all the people. its the government and all parties to debate and decide. It can not be done AAP style that tell AK whether to resign or not, whether to stand for lok sabha election or or not. Prashant sir, after trying to advocate for Green Peace, you have reached here. nice. i like your omnipresence.
    Reply
  4. K
    K.V. Amla
    May 6, 2015 at 10:50 am
    Atleast in the eastern border there will be peace. Kayvee; bhopal
    Reply
  5. D
    Dr Motilal
    May 6, 2015 at 11:44 am
    A positive step however does this deal include deportation of millions of "ILLEGAL BANGLADESHI IMMIGRANTS" who are roaming in India ? This is a "HUGE " problem . Many of these Bangladeshis are involved in criminal and anti-social activities including terrorism . Many of them are members of "EXTREMIST OUTFITS" such as Indian Mjahideen .BJP promised during election-2014 campaign that this problem will be solved .
    Reply
  6. B
    bangalorean
    May 6, 2015 at 8:48 am
    you are a biggest joker !
    Reply
  7. S
    Sunil
    May 6, 2015 at 2:47 pm
    At last we got a working Govt. Prolonged delay wont solve issues and also solve the illegal immigrants issue.
    Reply
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