Decks were cleared for the settlement of the boundary dispute between India and Bangladesh as a parliamentary panel threw its weight behind the related constitutional amendment bill and Mamata Banerjee's Trinamool Congress came on board after stone-walling the passage of the long-pending bilateral Land Boundary Agreement (LBA) for past few years.
On Sunday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi indicated in Assam that his government would go ahead with the land swap deal with Bangladesh. The parliamentary standing committee on external affairs, headed by Congress' Shashi Tharoor, Monday presented its report on the bill and even urged the government to bring the legislation at the earliest.
With the Congress offering its support and now Trinamool coming on board, sources said that the bill may even be passed during the ongoing winter session of Parliament.
"As a Trinamool member in the parliamentary panel, I had to look after the national interest, the state's interest and the people's interest. I think we (the panel) found a good balance between all three issues," Trinamool MP Sugato Bose told HT.
The constitution (119th amendment) bill 2013 is aimed to ratify the Indo-Bangaldesh LBA, agreed between former PM Indira Gandhi and Mujibur Rehman. As per the provisions of the agreement, India will hand over 111 enclaves with total area of 17,160.63 acres to Bangladesh and will get 51 Bangladesh enclaves with an area of 7,110.02 acres. There will be no unsettling of the existing population.
The committee is of strong opinion that the constitution (119th amendment) bill is "in overall national interest" as it would pave way for broader bilateral ties "with one of our closest neighbours."
Trinamool's turn around also comes at a time when it has received flak for its "soft approach" towards illegal migrants. Bose, however, added, "The panel's report had said that closer consultations between the highest political authorities of the state and the centre was desirable. It has also suggested sufficient safeguards."