Settling the country's 41-year-old border issue with Bangladesh, Parliament on Thursday unanimously passed a historic bill to operationalise the Land Boundary Agreement that provides for exchange of territories.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke to his Bangladesh counterpart Sheikh Hasina soon after the bill was passed.
Spoke to Bangladesh PM Sheikh Hasina and conveyed my greetings to the people of Bangladesh on this landmark occasion.— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) May 7, 2015
He termed it as the collective will of the nation to build constructive relations with neighbours. Haisna said passing of the bill was a huge diplomatic success and thanked “everyone involved in the process”.
Modi also thanked leaders of all Opposition parties in India as well as the allies for their support and said a “historic milestone” has been reached in India-Bangladesh ties.
Spoke to Sonia ji, Kharge ji, Jayalalithaa ji, Karunanidhi ji, Yechury ji, Mayawati ji, Mulayam Singh ji, Naveen Babu & Sharad Yadav ji.— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) May 7, 2015
He also spoke to chief ministers of bordering states to thank them for support to the bill that provides for exchange of territories with Bangladesh.
The Lok Sabha, showing rare unanimity, passed the Constitution (119th Amendment) Bill to allow the operationalisation of the LBA between Hasina’s father Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and the then Indian prime minister Indira Gandhi in 1974.
Prime Minister said the amendment passed ensures a permanent settlement of land boundary with Bangladesh and resolution of long-pending boundary issues.
In the Lok Sabha, Modi walked up to Congress president Sonia Gandhi and her party’s Leader in the House, Mallikarjun Kharge, and thanked them for their support. He also called up leaders of Opposition parties, like AIADMK chief J Jayalalithaa, DMK chief M Karunanidhi and BSP supremo Mayawati to thank them.
Earlier, external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj said the agreement was beneficial for both the countries and that there will a "notional" loss of territory without borders getting contracted.
India will get 510 acres while Bangladesh will get 10,000 acres. "But these are notional figures as these areas are deep inside territories of the two countries. Our borders are not getting contracted," she said, while responding to members' questions whether India will lose some territory.
Swaraj said the measure, apart from demarcating the boundaries, would also help checking illegal immigration.
"A solution to the problem of illegal immigration is inherent in this legislation. With the land border now being decided (with the passage of the bill), the portions where there is no fencing will also get fenced," she said.
Swaraj said the only issue which remained to be settled with Bangladesh was that of river water-sharing, primarily relating to Teesta river. "The way in which we are now settling the land boundary issue, we will try to settle this issue also."
The maritime boundary between India and Bangladesh has also been settled last year with the award by the international tribunal.
Refuting allegations about India's alleged 'big brotherly' attitude, the external affairs minister said "one is 'big brother' which symbolises arrogance. But there is also the 'elder brother' who is caring. Ours is a caring attitude.
India will maintain the attitude of the 'elder brother' with our neighbours."
(With inputs from PTI)