Centre having second thoughts on Assam exclusion

* Dhaka's reluctance-Tarun Gogoi's protest forcing rollback!

* Assam BJP insists on separate deal to repatriate B'deshis



GUWAHATI, May 4: The Central government is having second thoughts about excluding Assam from the Indo-Bangla land swap deal, even as the Congress on Monday accused the BJP of indulging in rrow politics over the issue.

In the backdrop of Dhaka’s reported unwillingness to accept the truncated land-swap deal delinking Assam, and Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi’s vociferous protests against the State’s exclusion, a high-level meet of the BJP in New Delhi was deliberating upon this issue till the time of filing of this report.

According to party sources, the meet chaired by BJP tiol president Amit Shah, was being attended by Union ministers Sushma Swaraj, Rajth Singh, Venkaiah idu, Dharmendra Pradhan and Sarbanda Sonowal, general secretary (organization) Ramlal, the party’s tiol observer for Assam Dr Mahendra Singh, along with Assam BJP president Siddhartha Bhattacharjee and State BJP general secretary (organization) Phanindra th Sarma among others.

Talking to The Sentinel over phone from New Delhi on Monday, State BJP president Siddhartha Bhattacharjee said, “An amendment bill on the land swap deal with Bangladesh was passed in the Union Cabinet, excluding Assam. Many political and social groups have protested against this move of the Central government. But the previous UPA government at the Centre went all out to hand over some portions of Assam’s land to Bangladesh through the land boundary agreement.”

Bhattacharjee said the BJP is concerned over the benefits Assam will get with the signing of the land swap deal. He also said the State BJP will propose to the Central government to sign the repatriation treaty with Bangladesh so that the country can take back its tiols illegally staying in Assam. “If the Central government inks such an agreement with Dhaka, we will then discuss about the land swap agreement,” Bhattacharjee said.

The State BJP president said it has become a huge burden for Assam as lakhs of Bangladeshi migrants are illegally living in the State, and signing of a repatriation agreement will help Assam hand over illegal Bangladeshis living in the State to Bangladesh, which cannot then refuse to accept them. 

Bhattacharjee said that the State BJP leaders discussed these issues with the party’s tiol leaders on Monday evening.

Earlier, the State Congress charged Prime Minister rendra Modi of practicing “double standards for rrow political gain” by proposing to exclude Assam from the purview of the land swap deal with Bangladesh.

“The Prime Minister had last year said here that the agreement is good for Assam. Now why are you excluding it? You have one stand before polls and another after. It is double standards for rrow political gains,” Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi fulmited. Gogoi even shot off an angry letter to the Prime Minister denouncing the Union cabinet’s decision to de-link Assam from the deal. 

Several Assam-based political and social groups also asserted that the Centre should have consulted the State before proposing any change to the Land Boundary Agreement (LBA).

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