The prospects of implementing India’s Land Boundary Agreement (LBA) with Bangladesh brightened today with West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee throwing her behind the deal saying “the problem will be solved soon”.
“A solution is being worked out for the border enclaves and the problem will be solved soon,” Mamata said in Coochbehar after inaugurating a number of government projects, reports our New Delhi correspondent Pallab Bhattacharya.
The symbolism of Mamata’s remarks is not lost for those who know that all the 161 enclaves held adversely by India and Bangladesh are located across the border Coochbehar in West Bengal shares with Bangladesh.
Mamata said her government wanted a solution to the problem of enclaves as early as possible and “we want that the residents of the enclaves get their rights.”
The Trinamool Congress chief said the relations between “the two Bengals are good and will remain good.”
She also said that she on Wednesday laid the foundation stones for roads in West Bengal’s Jalpaiguri, linking Bangladesh with Bhutan and Nepal through India.
Mamata’s comments about LBA assume significance as they come a few days after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi had asserted in Assam last Sunday that his government would go ahead with operationalising the LBA with Bangladesh contending that it was in the long-term security interests of India.
On Monday, a parliamentary standing committee of India’s Ministry of External Affairs submitted in parliament a “unanimous” report recommending immediate passage of a long-pending constitution amendment bill in the House to help implementing the LBA signed way back in 1974.
The bill, introduced in Rajya Sabha, upper House of parliament last year when Congress-led UPA was in power, needs two-thirds majority support because it will amend the constitution and because it involves exchange of land with Bangladesh.
However, Mamata's party earlier had reservations about the LBA, particularly with regard to loss of territory and the fund needed for rehabilitation of residents of the enclaves who will opt to switch to West Bengal after the exchange of enclaves.