The Union cabinet’s decision to clear the decks for ratification and operationalisation of the land boundary agreement between India and Bangladesh evoked sharp reactions in Assam Tuesday.
“There is no difference between national parties like the BJP and the Congress as far as Assam’s problems are concerned. While the Congress had signed the agreement in 2011 without taking the people of Assam into confidence, the BJP promised to keep the state out of the land exchange only to get votes during the 2014 Lok Sabha election,” said Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) president Atul Bora.
The All Assam Students’ Union (AASU), meanwhile, staged protests in all district headquarter towns and burnt copies of the agreement.
It also hit out at Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi for pressing the Centre to not exclude Assam from the process. Gogoi, who had accompanied the then prime minister Manmohan Singh to Dhaka when the protocol was signed between the two countries, has maintained that Assam would benefit from the settlement of the long-pending issue.
With Assembly elections in the state due in less than a year, the cabinet decision could prove costly for the state BJP. The state BJP unit had been in favour of excluding Assam from the process, and had also made it a major issue in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. Even after Tuesday’s cabinet decision, state BJP president Siddhartha Bhattacharyya said, “The Assam BJP’s stand all along has been to keep the state out of the amendment because people do not want to part with even an inch of land.”