Govt to ratify controversial India-Bangla land deal

Govt to ratify controversial India-Bangla land deal

The Centre has dropped its plan to exclude Assam from implementation of the UPA-era India-Bangaldesh land deal and is now set to push for the passage of a constitutional amendment bill to ratify the pact.  

A meeting of the Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday decided to push for passage of the Constitution (119th Amendment) Bill, 2013 by the Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha. The government will withdraw the amendment it recently moved to exclude Assam from the ambit of the Bill, which was originally introduced in the Rajya Sabha by the UPA government on December 18, 2013.

The government is expected to move the Bill for consideration and passage in the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday. The Bill is likely to be introduced in the Lok Sabha on Thursday.

A section within the BJP, particularly the party’s unit in Assam, wanted the state to be kept out of the ambit of the Bill. Some BJP leaders were of the view that since the party had joined other social and political organisations in Assam to oppose the Bill introduced by the UPA government in Parliament, the U-turn by the Modi government might hurt its prospects in next year’s Assembly elections in the state.  

The government earlier indicated that an amendment would be introduced in Rajya Sabha to exclude Assam from the ambit of the Bill. But protests from the Congress, which is in power in the state, prompted it to rethink and it decided to push the Bill in its original form in the Rajya Sabha and introduce a similar Bill in the Lok Sabha.

The government requires the support of the Congress and other opposition parties to secure support of two-third members in both Houses.

The Bill seeks to change the Constitution’s First Schedule, which defines the boundaries of the states and union territories of India. The government has to alter the boundaries of Tripura, Meghalaya, Assam and West Bengal to implement the 1974 agreement and the additional protocol added to it during then PM Manmohan Singh’s visit to Dhaka in Sept 2011 to resolve disputes on un-demarcated stretches.

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