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Cabinet clears Bill on land swap deal

New Delhi: The Bill to operationalise the Land Boundary Agreement with Bangladesh was on Tuesday  cleared by the Union Cabinet and now includes territories in Assam along with those in West Bengal, Tripura and Meghalaya. The Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi met in the morning to clear the Bill that is likely to come up in Rajya Sabha on Wednesday.
Highly placed sources said government has already talked to various parties in the Upper House, where an earlier bill in this regard is pending since December 2013. Government had earlier proposed to bring the bill in Lok Sabha, but faced stiff opposition from the opposition that wanted that territories in Assam be included in it.
The inclusion of Assam territories in the Bill indicates government’s resolve to get the legislation cleared after bringing all parties on board. Government will bring the Constitutional Amendment Bill for ratification of the Land Boundary Agreement with Bangladesh.
It would require ratification of at least 50 per cent of the state legislatures before it comes into effect. The clearing of the Bill by Union Cabinet comes a day after the top leadership of BJP and RSS discussed the bill with its Assam leaders and decided to include the territories pertaining to the state.
The meeting, attended by Home Minister Rajnath Singh, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu, along with RSS joint general secretary Krishna Gopal, held at the residence of BJP chief Amit Shah yesterday lasted a few hours.
Sources said the top BJP RSS leadership discussed the Assam Assembly elections slated for next year and the party’s strategy for it as also the political ramifications of delinking Assam from the land boundary bill. The BJP leaders from the state had earlier demanded that Assam should be delinked from the Bill as exchange of territories to Bangladesh had become an “emotive issue” in the state. Congress had demanded that Assam should not be delinked from the Bill and its territories be included in it and had opposed tooth and nail the exclusion of Assam from its ambit.
Sources said the proposal to bring the Bill was deferred earlier after Congress strongly opposed the exclusion of Assam from the ambit of the Land Boundary Agreement.
While the government has got various states, including Trinamool Congress-ruled West Bengal, Tripura and Meghalaya, on board on the issue, its decision to keep Assam out of it has irked Congress which rules that state. (PTI)

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