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Land Boundary Agreement in Indian parliament: Tokenism?


Written By: HarunurRashid
18/08/2013 20:34
Foreign Relations

In an exclusive interview with The Independent’s Delhi correspondent Kumkum Chadha, India’s union minister for External Affairs Salman Khurshid called the Land Boundary Agreement(LBA) between Bangladesh and India a post-wedding photograph. That implies that the wedding is in place, but the photograph is not. The minister conceded that the bill was included by ‘mistake’ and hence has been deferred until next week. Contrary to the minister’s contention the photograph is a dire necessity for the incumbent Bangladesh government. Without the photograph it cannot face the electorate for the year-end election.

It is like some one who has wedded an alien spouse and now that he is back amongst his family and society he needs the photograph to prove to them the wedding is no fiction, it is a fact of his life and by implication of the life of his family members. The fate of the LBA in the current session of parliament is known to Salman Khurshid, but nevertheless he had this included in the list for discussion. 

The BJP is in no hurry to please Sheikh Hasina. By lending support to an international agreement, it cannot put its vote bank in Assam at jeopardy. So wait till we get through the elections. Dipu Moni’s visit to Delhi could not bring any positive results, nor could the wooing of Narendra Modi by Bangladesh High Commissioner Tariq Karim bear any fruit. But thanks to the UPA government that it has realised that at least a move to introduce it in parliament will act as a face-saver. That is what Chadha in her brilliant journalistic jargon called ‘Tokenism’. 

It was fascinating the way Chadha was digging in Salman’s responses. In this cat and mouse play, Khurshid’s diplomatic feat could be seen at work, but Chadha was relentless, she would not let him get away with his diplomatic sleight. She repeated, ‘You have yet to tell me whether this is tokenism?’ 

But Khurshid would not accept it that way. No it is not tokenism, it is honouring a promise by Mrs Indira Gandhi, he said. (But Khurshid is forgetting Berubari which was part of the deal and Bangladesh took no time in making over the territory to India) 

The trouble with the word ‘tokenism’ is obvious. India would not like to be seen helping a friendly government, in this case, Sheikh Hasina’s government. So Khurshid has to clarify – ‘India is not siding with one or the other. When Begum Khaleda Zia met me she also said that the LBA should take effect’. 

So the LBA is going before the Indian parliament on the 19th or the 20th. But everybody, even Salman Khurshid, knows its fate. So why is it being taken there only to be deferred until at least the Indian elections are over. 
Meanwhile, Sheikh Hasina has to have something to prop up her dwindling vote bank. If that is not ‘Tokenism’, what it is – will someone tell me? Kumkum keep it up – we here in Dhaka are proud of you for the way you exposed the hypocrisy which is known by a finer term – ‘diplomacy’.
To see what happens to the LBA, we shall not wait until the 20th of August. Tokenism – that’s what it is. Chadha has hit the nail on the head.


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Land Boundary dispute India Bangladesh 


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About HarunurRashid

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  • Name: Professor M Harunur Rashid
  • From: Dhaka
  • Nationality: Bangladesh
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    Professor Harunur Rashid is a Cambridge Gradute, former professor of North South University, now Teaching English at International Islamic University Chittagong(IIUC), Dhaka Campus. Contributing as an Associate Editor of The Independent and former DG of Bangla Academy.

    Contact: mharunursra@yahoo.com

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