A day ahead of the constitutional amendment bill regarding the Indo-Bangla border accord being tabled, External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid is making another effort to woo the Assam opposition members, who have been the main critics of the pact that will give India 51 Bangladeshi enclaves, and Bangladesh 111 Indian enclaves.
Speaking to Express, Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) MP Birendra Prasad Baishya said Member of Parliaments from his party had been invited to meet Khurshid over the land boundary bill.
“We will be meeting him on Monday morning,” he said. Khurshid will introduce the 119th constitutional amendment bill in the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday.
Despite the United Progressive Alliance’s overtures, the Asom Gana Parishad hasn’t changed its antagonistic position, and is trying to make its voice heard in Parliament. “We will oppose it,” Baishya said.
There is still uncertainty over the bill’s passage, as it requires the support of the two-third of the members present in the House at the time of voting.
The United Progressive Alliance doesn’t have all the numbers on its own, so it has been lobbying other parties to reach a consensus to allow the bill to pass.
For the last six months, the Ministry of External Affairs has been giving a series of detailed presentations on the provisions of the accord to Member of Parliaments of both houses.
On their part, Asom Gana Parishad members have for some time been working hard to mobilise the support of all non-United Progressive Alliance parties to defeat the bill.
The matter has become an emotional rallying point for opposition politicos in Assam.
In fact, while Trinamool Congres had made critical noises about the Indo-Bangla protocol, it’s voice has not been as strident as that of Assamese Opposition politicians, who assert that the state will be losing its territory to Bangladesh if the border is redrawn.
The Bharatiya Janata Party had also largely based its opposition to the bill on the stance of Assam unit, despite some dissenting voices among the central leaders.
The opposition points out that Assam Revenue Minister Prithibi Majhi had on on April 2 said the state would lose 264.8 acres of land, if the land-swap deal was ratified.
The Left parties, acknowledging the strong emotions in the north-eastern state, have suggested that the government should convene an all-party meeting of leaders from Assam.
However, government officials assert that Assam would be the “net gainer” in terms of land, compared to other border states.
And the officials are worried that this would likely be the “last opportunity” for India to fulfil its side of the bargain on the border pact.
“You not get any other Bangladeshi government to agree again. Bangladesh will lose confidence in us...,” said government sources.
Stating that the border pact was in India’s national interests, official sources said there should not be more delay in settling the border issue, “as facts were fast changing on the ground”.