NEW DELHI, May 7 � The Land Boundary Agreement (LBA) crossed yet another hurdle when the Lok Sabha today unanimously passed the 100th Constitution Amendment Bill, even as the AIUDF emerged as the lone party to oppose the Bill.
However, AIUDF�s Karimganj MP Radhay Shyam Biswas voted in favour of the Bill, though the party�s two MPs Badruddin Ajmal and Sirajuddin Ajmal were not present in the House during the voting. Sirajuddin Ajmal urged External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj to withdraw the Bill in the interest of the people of Assam.
The Bill was passed by 322 votes in favour and none against it and no abstention, while 16 MPs spoke, with some MPs, mostly from West Bengal, reciting compositions by famous poets.
The discussion in the Lower House that lasted for over three hours, saw MPs from Assam belonging to the Congress Party and BJP indulge in verbal exchanges amidst interruptions. The Assam BJP�s two MPs RP Sharma and Rajen Gohain expressed their opposition to the land swap deal and blamed the Congress for it.
Initiating the discussion in the Lok Sabha, the External Affairs Minister repeated most of what she had said yesterday in the Rajya Sabha, explaining the background and developments leading to the decision to first exclude Assam from the LBA and then include the State to evolve a consensus in the Parliament.
She mentioned that the AGP, BJP and Trinamool Congress had opposed the Bill in 2013, when it was introduced by the then UPA government.
Swaraj further clarified that the fencing along the international border would be completed after demarcation of the Indo-Bangladesh border. Currently, 88 per cent of the international border with Bangladesh is fenced, she added.
The minister further clarified that Assam would get 470 acres of the 738 acres of land in adverse possession. Overall, India would get 1,024 acres of land in adverse possession.
She further reiterated that West Bengal would get a financial package of Rs 3,008 crore, out of which Rs 2,234 crore would be a variable component.
Meanwhile, participating in the discussion, Rajen Gohain, who spoke in Hindi, said Assam has already become an enclave of Bangladesh and the fears are that new areas may fall victim to illegal infiltration from Bangladesh.
Gohain, who did initially try to do some balancing act, said if the deal addresses the security concern of Assam, then he would have no objection. �Our borders should be safe,� he said. �But infiltration is continuing and Assam itself has become an enclave of Bangladesh,� he alleged.
Earlier, RP Sharma while joining the discussion, admitted that the Assam BJP has opposed the LBA because illegal infiltration from Bangladesh is a major problem, besides smuggling of cattle. The BSF is not in a position to guard the border, he said.
�The indigenous organisations and BJP were part of the agitation when the deal was signed, as it is against the interest of the State,� he said amidst interruptions.
Opposing the Bill, Sirajuddin Ajmal said India must withdraw the Bill and construct a wall along the Indo-Bangladesh border to check illegal infiltration.
The Constitution Amendment Bill is against the interest of the people and would badly affect Assam and its neighbouring states, he said, adding that there are other ways of improving ties with Bangladesh.
Participating in the discussion, Congress MP Gaurav Gogoi urged the government to bring out a document detailing the LBA. He claimed that Assam, as a special case, got 470 acres of land of the 738 acres under adverse possession.