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Bangladesh boundary agreement bill tabled in Rajya Sabha amid protests

Thursday, 19 December 2013 - 9:51am IST | Place: New Delhi | Agency: DNA

Akin to the act of pulling a trick out the hat, the government on Wednesday introduced the controversial Land Boundary Agreement (LBA) (Constitutional Amendment) Bill in the Rajya Sabha just before the winter session as to be declared sine die.  

Minister for external affairs, Salman Khursheed, managed to introduce the LBA bill amid high drama leading to vociferous protests by the Trinamool Congress and Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) members.

The LBA Bill is aimed at redrawing the international boundary between India and Bangladesh by exchanging areas of adverse possession and enclaves along with population on either side, thus making the highly incongruous and porous Indo-Bangla border more manageable.

Once the Indo-Bangladesh border gets redrawn India will transfer 111 enclaves measuring 17,160.63 acres to Bangladesh and receive 51 enclaves measuring 7,110.2 acres.

But more importantly, the LBA protocol signed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his counterpart Sheikh Hasina in 2011 is a crucial trump card for a second term win for India friendly Awami League government in 2013-14 elections.  And is a kind of diplomatic necessity for India to continue friendly relations with Bangladesh.

Return of Begum Khalida Zia’s regime does not suit India as Bangladesh National Party (BNP) happens to be close to fundamentalist forces like Jammat-e-Islami Bangladesh that had sides with Pakistan. However, regional parties like TMC in West Bengal and AGP in Assam are against the bill and describe it as a sell out to Bangladesh as it transfers a little more land to Bangladesh.
They also fear that population living in adverse possession areas and enclaves would choose to come to India.

The agitating TMC and AGP members tried to snatch the copy of the bill from Salman Khursheed described government’s move to introduce the constitutional amendment bill as a despicable act.
Trinamool MP, Derek O’Brien, who tore the agenda paper having  LBA bill when it was circulated at around 2:30 p.m. tweeted, “A lame duck government introduced Bangladesh Giveaway (sic) Bill. Sneakily, added last minute to agreed bills for the day.”

“Are constitutional amendment bill brought in this way. Entire house protested. Except Congress and CPI (M) Are they loyal to Bengal or Bangladesh,” O’Brien said.


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