Pranab notes broad Indian consensus on relations with Bangladesh

Last Updated: Mon, Mar 04, 2013 15:00 hrs

Dhaka, March 4 (IANS) Accompanied by four MPs from parties like the Trinamool Congress and the BJP, visiting Indian President Pranab Mukherjee Monday stressed on the "broad consensus" among the political spectrum in his country on relations with Bangladesh.

Addressing the Indian diaspora in a ceremony here, Mukherjee said: "In a democratic system there are divergent views, but some issues are there on which we work together... on some issues we have consensus... close relations with neighbours is one of them."

Relations between India and Bangladesh have received "broad consensus among the political spectrum of India", he said in the presence of the MPs - Sitaram Yechury of the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M), Mukul Roy of the Trinamool, Bhubaneshwar Kalita of the Congress and Chandan Mitra of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

The four are part of the delegation accompanying the president.

The Indian cabinet had last month cleared a bill to amend the India-Bangladesh Land Boundary Agreement, 1974 and the protocol of 2011.

The latter, inked during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's 2011 Dhaka visit, requires a constitutional amendment for ratification as they involve exchange of land in 111 Indian enclaves in Bangladesh and 51 Bangladeshi enclaves on Indian soil.

Bangladesh has already ratified the pact. Indian enclaves in Bangladesh are spread over 17,149 acres, while Bangladesh enclaves in India are located on 7,110 acres of land.

The BJP has termed the 1974 India-Bangladesh Land Boundary Agreement as flawed and declared that the government cannot bank on its support when the Constitution Amendment Bill to facilitate implementation of the pact comes up in parliament during the budget session.

BJP president Rajnath Singh had called the pact "one-sided".

Besides the Land Boundary Agreement, the sharing of Teesta waters is another outstanding issue which is stuck due to concerns raised by various stakeholders in India.

On Teesta, Mukherjee said it was an outstanding issue but "a democratic way of dialogue and discussion" with stakeholders are being held. "We are doing it," he said.

The Teesta agreement, which was to be inked in 2011 during Manmohan Singh's Dhaka visit, was stuck following protests by West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee.

Meanwhile, Mitra and Roy, besides Yechuri and Kalita, are believed to have met Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Foreign Minister Dipu Moni and others for unofficial talks during which the two issues were raised.

Hussain Muhammad Ershad, chief of the Jatiya Party and former president of the country, had also raised the issue when he met the Indian MPs.

"The targeting of Hindus by Islamists was raised during the meeting with Ershad," an informed source added.

Mukherjee, in one-on-one talks with Hasina Sunday, assured her that both issues would be addressed and talks were on with stakeholders in India.

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