RS clears historic Indo-Bangla boundary bill

Rajat Kain

RajyaSabha_PTIHistory was made in Rajya Sabha after it passed the law to operationalise the crucial Land Boundary Agreement with Bangladesh. The pact includes territories in Assam along with those in West Bengal, Tripura and Meghalaya. The agreement will enable better drawing up of the boundaries with exchange of certain contiguous areas and allowing unrestricted movement of people in these enclaves. During the debate in the upper house of the parliament several members across the parties supported the long pending move. The law was hailed by the members as they called it important for both commerce and security of the two nations.

The bill was passed with more than 2/3rd majority in the house as all 180 members, who were present in the house, voted in the favour. The vote even prompted the Deputy Chairperson PJ Kurien to say “It is a history”.

Appealing the house to pass the law, Union External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said, “It has been pending for the last 41 years. The previous UPA government under PM Manmohan Singh made special efforts to clear the bill, we have just taken that forward”.

Earlier on Tuesday, the cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi cleared the bill to be taken up for discussion in Rajya Sabha.

However, the bill too had its own share of controversies as the BJP had initially not included Assam in the pact. That move was stiffly opposed by the Congress party and other opposition when the Central government proposed to move the bill in Lok Sabha. The principal opposition party had demanded that Assam should not be delinked from the bill and its territories be included in it.

The Chief Minister of Assam Tarun Gogoi also wrote to the Prime Minister protesting against the position taken by the BJP and RSS of excluding the state of Assam.

Finally, the government over-ruled its own party view and included the territories of Assam in the bill. The move made it possible for several parties to come on board with the government to vote in favour of the law.

The BJP leaders from the state had earlier demanded that Assam should be delinked from the Bill as exchange of territories to Bangladesh had become an “emotive issue” in the state.