UPA government gets BJP support for tabling Bangla Bill

India-Bangladesh LBADespite diplomatic and military protocol, the issue of border remains a contention between India and Bangladesh (IE image)

The UPA government is learnt to have got the BJP's support for tabling the Bill related to the Land Boundary Agreement with Bangladesh in the Winter Session of parliament starting Thursday, signalling its intent to Dhaka to go ahead with the landmark pact.

However, the Bill is unlikely to be taken up for ratification, with the BJP making it clear that the government will have to explain its political limitations to Bangladesh. According to reliable sources, the Bill will be introduced in the Rajya Sabha so that it remains alive in the new parliament after the general elections.

The BJP, it is learnt, has come around to the view that this is how far it can go in an election year, although it is not fundamentally against an agreement which traces its roots to the Vajpayee government. The agreement would settle a major disputed boundary for India while allowing the India-friendly Sheikh Hasina government in Dhaka to take the credit in the coming elections there.

The agreement entails exchange of certain enclaves on both sides, but, in doing so, only confirms status quo. Displacement of certain population, on voluntary basis, is expected, for which the Centre is willing to provide financial assistance for rehabilitation.

Earlier, at a meeting on the margins of the UN General Assembly, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had assured his Bangladeshi counterpart that his government would make all efforts to see the Bill through in the Winter Session. In fact, External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid, at the PM's instance, gave a detailed update on his efforts to garner political support.

While the agreement was signed by the two prime ministers in 2011, it needs parliamentary ratification as it involves changes in territorial boundaries of the state and the country.

For the BJP, the problem is the opposition from its Assam unit along with potential ally, the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP). The government has also not been able to convince the Trinamool Congress on the agreement, and is hoping that Mamata Banerjee will not block a consensus on its introduction in parliament.

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