4:53 pm - Friday May 24, 7309

BJP reaffirms stand against land, Teesta deals with Bangladesh

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Sunday called up the BJP’s prime-minister elect Narendra Modi to congratulate him even as the new government he is set to lead may find it difficult to meet Dhaka’s key expectations.
Hours after the call, the BJP reaffirmed its stand of opposing the deal the two countries’ governments had inked during outgoing Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to Bangladesh in September 2011.
bd-indiaHasina and her Awami League government have been upset over the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government’s failure to get the deal ratified by Parliament of India, primarily due to strong opposition from the BJP and the regional Asom Gana Parishad.
“I am sure a BJP government in the Centre will never ratify a deal which seeks to unduly give away Assam’s land to Bangladesh. We have opposed it and will continue to oppose it,” Sarbananda Sonowal, the president of the BJP unit in Assam, told Deccan Herald on Sunday.
With Trinamool Congress (TMC) having 34 MPs in the new Lok Sabha, Modi’s government will also find it difficult to resume negotiations on the India-Bangladesh deal for sharing the Teesta river water. The TMC supremo and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s objection stalled the negotiation over the deal since 2011.
The BJP’s strong opposition to the Centre’s move in Parliament to ratify the 1974 India-Bangladesh Land Boundary Agreement and the additional protocol added to it in 2011 is understood to have helped the party expand its support base in Assam.
The party used it to attack the Congress, accusing the Central government of giving up India’s claim on the disputed territories along its border with Bangladesh. The state BJP believes that it helped the party woo the Assamese Hindus generally loyal to the AGP in the past. Modi’s rhetoric on illegal migration from Bangladesh is also understood to have helped as influx of settlers from the neighbouring country has since long been an emotive issue in Assam.
The BJP won seven of the 14 Lok Sabha seats and its vote-share jumped from 16.21 per cent in 2009 parliamentary polls to 36.5 per cent this year. The Congress, which has been in power since 2001, ended up with just three seats and 29.6 per cent votes – a steep fall from its 2009 score of seven seats and 34.89 per cent vote-share.
“The BJP is firm on its belief that the India-Bangladesh land deal is detrimental to the interest of Assam in particular and the country in general. There cannot be any rethinking,” Sonowal, who is among the BJP’s newly-elected MPs from the northeastern state, said.