ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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A Border Settled

A non-disputed border will help open the political gates for freer movement of people and goods.

The Narendra Modi-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government has finally exhibited good sense about the Land Boundary Agreement(LBA) with Bangladesh by presenting the 119th Constitutional Amendment Bill in the Rajya Sabha without excluding Assam. This will help rationalise and settle one of the most illogical borders of the region which leave tiny enclaves of each country’s territory surrounded by the other. Just a week back, reportedly under pressure from the ­Assam unit of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) that feared that it would lose popular support just as the state starts preparing for the assembly elections next year, the Cabinet had decided to exclude Assam from the agreement. The very fact that the government was willing to put “national interest” as well as long-term diplomatic relations with Bangladesh on the line merely to win some electoral seats in one state of the country is a good indicator of this government’s priorities.

Thankfully better counsel prevailed, as even the Minister of External Affairs, Sushma Swaraj and her office worked to reverse the very cabinet decision she had been unable to stop. It is even better that the representatives from the other states—West Bengal, Meghalaya and Tripura—which border Bangladesh have all come together to support this move. Now the Lok Sabha needs to pass this Constitutional Amendment and then half of the state legislatures need to ratify it before it becomes a legal act. This then can be presented to the Bangladesh government and the logistics of the formal exchange of territories will then have to be worked out. For the moment, the political logjam which had held up this agreement for the past four decades seems to have cleared; unless of course Prime Minister Modi’s party forces him into another of his numerous about-turns and amendments are introduced in the Lok Sabha. Athough this seems a faint possibility, given the fickle nature of the BJP’s support and commitment to the LBA and their past positions against it, such an eventuality cannot be entirely ruled out.

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