Politics in India over land deal with Bangladesh

India’s team Modi has geared up to counter all opposition against the swift passage of the land swap deal with neighbouring Bangladesh in both Houses of Parliament.

New Delhi Correspondentbdnews24.com
Published : 8 Dec 2014, 08:09 AM
Updated : 8 Dec 2014, 08:25 PM

Significantly, the BJP which opposed the deal during the UPA regime has now come forward to pass the contentious bill.

Even the leaders of party’s Assam unit, who held several demonstrations against the bill in the state when previous UPA government wanted to ratify it in Parliament, are also now backing it and vouched to thwart any opposition to it.

“If we can implement the land transfer deal with Bangladesh, we can stop influx of illegal migrants from that country,” BJP MP from Assam’s Tezpur parliamentary constituency RP Sarma told bdnews24.com.

He said that Assam will get 231 acre of land including two tea gardens from Bangladesh, whereas Bangladesh side will get 268 acre of land, inhabited by suspected Bangladeshi nationals, in return from Assam.

But as expected BJP is now finding it difficult to convince people in Assam its “sudden change of heart” on the issue immediately after coming to power at the Centre.

Ever since, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced in a recent public meeting in Guwahati that India would implement the land swap deal, protests became louder against the decision in Assam.

“Before the election Narendra Modi said that India will not give even an inch of its land to Bangladesh, but after forming the government he took an u-turn and vouched to implement the land transfer deal,” said Samujjal Bhattacharya, leader of the influential students organisation, All Assam Students Union (AASU).

But the BJP lawmaker countered Bhattacharya’s claim and said that influx from Bangladesh remain unabated when the AGP (an off shoot of the AASU) was in power in the state for two terms.

“They came to power with the promise of deporting illegal migrants from Bangladesh and stop influx, but nothing was done,” Sarma claimed.

The AGP came to power in 1985 following anti-foreigner Assam agitation launched by the AASU. The party was again in power from 1996.

Those opposing the BJP stand were arguing that if the deal would be so effective in stopping influx of illegal migrants, why BJP opposed it in the first place thus delaying the ratification of the agreement.

Quite interestingly, the All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) led by Badruddin Ajmal too suddenly started opposing the bill.

Ajaml along with two other party MPs recently met India’s External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj in Delhi to apprise their opposition to the deal.

“Badruddin Ajmal too wants to gain some mileage from the issue ahead of the 2016 Assam Assembly election,” said Sarma.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj reportedly told the AIUDF delegation that the Centre was committed to table the Land Boundary Agreement (LBA) in Parliament.

Swaraj reportedly told said that the agreement was signed during the UPA regime and that this government could not dump the bill introduced by the previous government.

The bill would be first laid in the upper House Rajya Sabha and after its passage there, it would be introduced in the Lok Sabha.

The previous government had introduced the bill in the Rajya Sabha after which it went to the Parliamentary Standing Committee.

The Committee has recently tabled its report in the Parliament.

Toufique Imrose Khalidi
Editor-in-Chief and Publisher