India-Bangladesh land boundary deal passed, Modi thanks Sonia

NEW DELHI (TIP): The Parliament on May 7 passed the constitutional amendment bill regarding the land boundary agreement with Bangladesh, following which Prime Minister Narendra Modi personally thanked Congress president Sonia Gandhi for Opposition’s support over the legislation.

The Prime Minister expressed his gratitude towards the Opposition and went to thank Sonia Gandhi personally after the passage of the Bill in Lok Sabha.

PM Modi also tweeted that alongwith Sonia, he thanked Congress’ Mallikarjun Kharge, CPIM’s Sitaram Yechury, BSP supremo Mayawati, Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav, BJD chief Naveen Patnaik and JDU leader Sharad Yadav.

The Prime Minister also conveyed his gratitude to NDA allies for their support to the India-Bangladesh Land Boundary Bill.

The PM also took to Twitter to thank the Opposition, wrote: “My thanks to all the political parties for their cooperation, as also to the states of Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Tripura & West Bengal.”

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He also spoke to chief ministers of bordering states –West Bengal’s Mamata Banerjee, Assam’s Tarun Gogoi, Tripura’s Manik Sarkar, Meghalaya’s Mukul Sangma and Mizoram’s Lalthanhawla — to thank them for support to the Land Boundary Bill that provides for exchange of territories with Bangladesh.

The bill had been unanimously passed by the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday and on Thursday it received Lok Sabha`s unanimous nod.

Earlier in the day, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had moved the Constitution (One Hundred and Nineteenth Amendment) Bill, 2013, for passage of the bill and said it had been passed unanimously by the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday.

“There was no vote against it and there was no abstention (in the Rajya Sabha). It sent a message to Bangladesh that all political parties are one on the issue. I will request that it is passed with the same spirit in the Lok Sabha as it will send a good message,” she said.

The bill, which entails exchange of enclaves between the two countries, seeks to amend the First Schedule of the Constitution to give effect to an agreement entered into by India and Bangladesh on acquiring and transfer of territories between the two countries on May 16, 1974.

Sushma Swaraj said that while the Bangladesh parliament had ratified the 1974 land boundary accord between two countries, the Indian parliament had not done so as demarcation had not been completed on the ground.

She said then prime minister Manmohan Singh signed the protocol for transfer of territories during his visit to Bangladesh in 2011.

The minister said the Constitution amendment bill was presented in the Rajya Sabha by the then United Progressive Alliance government in 2013 but the Bharatiya Janata Party, Trinamool Congress and Asom Gana Parishad had opposed it at the time.

She said that while the AGP and the BJP felt that it overlooked interests of Assam, West Bengal was keen on a package for people who would come to the state as a result of implementation of the agreement.

Sushma Swaraj said as foreign minister she chose Bangladesh as the country for her visit abroad, and Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina had urged her to move forward with the agreement.

She said Prime Minister Narendra Modi told her to work towards removing hurdles in the implementation of the agreement.

Sushma Swaraj said West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee wanted a package from the central government and it had been agreed upon.

The minister said she had moved the cabinet to keep Assam out of the implementation of agreement but the Congress was willing to support the bill only if the state was included.

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