A major government foreign policy initiative to improve ties with a neighbouring country was jeopardised after some Asom Gana Parishad Members tried to snatch a Bill to ratify the exchange of territory — small strips of land — between India and Bangladesh.
The attempt in Rajya Sabha by External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid to move the Constitution (119th) Amendment Bill was opposed by AGP’s Kumar Deepak Das and Birendra Kumar Baishya. The two Members raised slogans, while carrying placards against the Bill and appeared to lunge towards Mr. Khurshid who had a copy of the Bill in his hand.
Congress Members tried to prevent the AGP Members from their perceived attempt to snatch the Bill and in the commotion, supplemented by Bharatiya Janata Party Members raising slogans in support of their own demands, Mr. Khurshid took his seat without introducing the Bill. Soon after, Deputy Chairman P.J. Kurien adjourned the House till 2 p.m.
The Constitution Amendment Bill seeks to give effect to the acquiring of territories by India and transfer of certain territories to Bangladesh in pursuance of the agreement between the two countries signed over a year ago.
The AGP Members later said that they were opposing the Bill because they feared the territory swap would lead to a secessionist movement in Assam.
“They cannot play politics with it. Centre has signed a pact with Bangladesh which is not known to Assam people. They are doing it for their political interest. This is not in the interest of Assam. Because we are losing huge area of Assam to Bangladesh, we are not supporting it,” said Mr. Baishya.
Now only three days remain for the government to push through the Bill on which agreement has been reached with the BJP.