Bangla border pact Bill introduced in Rajya Sabha despite protests

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Ahead of national elections in Bangladesh early next month, External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid introduced the Constitution (One Hundred and Nineteenth Amendment) Bill, 2013, which seeks to ratify the land boundary agreement with Bangladesh, in the Rajya Sabha Tuesday.

The introduction of the Bill, which happened despite protests from members of the Trinamool Congress and Asom Gana Parishad, will ensure that it remains alive even after the current Lok Sabha term expires and the new Lok Sabha is constituted by the middle of next year.

While members of the Trinamool Congress led by Derek O'Brien, and AGP leader BP Baishya trooped to the well of the House and attempted to thwart the introduction towards the end of the session, the BJP appeared to have lent a tacit support to the introduction of the legislation. BJP refrained from joining the agitating members despite the party's public posturing against the land boundary agreement.

Highly-placed sources said Khurshid had engaged top BJP leaders in back channel talks to extract a tacit support for the introduction, with an eye on elections in Bangladesh. The move is aimed to help incumbent Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina stem anti-India sentiments as she goes to polls early next month.

Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley, however, issued a statement blaming the din for failing to raise objections against the introduction of the Bill.

"I had written to the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha that I wish to oppose the introduction... I was not allowed to orally raise the objection in the House on account of the environment that existed at that time and the ruling of the Deputy Chairman," Jaitley said.

On December 5, Jaitley had written to the Rajya Sabha Secretary General, saying, "My opposition is based on the ground that post-1973 when the basic structure doctrine was introduced by the Supreme Court, the territory of India is an inherent part of the basic structure of the Constitution. Territory of India is a part of the Constitution. It cannot be reduced or altered by an amendment to the Constitution."

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