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AGP walkout on land deal

Guwahati, Dec. 19: The AGP today staged a walkout while the BJP remained absent on the fourth day of the winter session of the Assam Assembly in protest against introduction of the India-Bangladesh land swap deal bill in Parliament.

AGP legislators staged a walkout during zero hour after they were not allowed to start a deliberation on the issue in the House by Speaker Pranab Gogoi.

Phani Bhusan Choudhury, an AGP legislator, raised the issue. He requested the Speaker that the ruling Congress government in the state lodge a protest against introduction of the land-swap deal bill through the current Assembly session.

Congress legislators started opposing this move tooth and nail. Chief minister Tarun Gogoi also joined his party MLAs and said his government welcomed the land-swap deal.

Gogoi said the land-swap deal with Bangladesh would go in favour of Assam and it would pave the way for a permanent and effective fencing of the Assam-Bangladesh border.

Congress MLAs said since the Assembly had already convened a special session on the issue in 2011, there was absolutely no necessity to have a discussion on the same at this juncture.

The AGP later said that the Centre had again deceived Assam by introducing the bill in the Rajya Sabha and criticised the BJP for “maintaining double standards”.

“Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, a member of Rajya Sabha from Assam, has proved himself as a person working against the interests of the state,” AGP general secretary Durga Das Boro told reporters at the party office here. The AGP also burnt an effigy of the Prime Minister.

“While BJP leaders in Assam are protesting the bill, their central leaders are keeping mum. Why is Narendra Modi silent on the issue?” Boro said.

The BJP had denied the AGP’s allegations and called a 12-hour Assam bandh tomorrow from 5am to protest against the land-swap deal.

The bill was introduced in the Rajya Sabha yesterday amid din and high drama which saw members of the AGP and the Trinamul Congress trying to snatch copies of the proposed legislation from external affairs minister Salman Khurshid.

The Assam unit of the BJP has issued a written statement of leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley in which he stated that he had written to Rajya Sabha chairperson Hamid Ansari seeking permission to oppose the introduction of the Constitution amendment bill.

“I was not allowed to orally raise the objection in the House on account of the environment that existed at that time and the ruling of deputy chairperson of Rajya Sabha P.J. Kurien,” Jaitley said in the statement. Sources said the AGP’s direct criticism of the BJP is a signal by the regional party to go it alone in the ensuing Lok Sabha polls. The AGP is also sending a signal that it would not allow the BJP to run away with the credit for derailing the land deal. Biswajit Ray-led faction of the All Koch Rajbongshi Students’ Union also opposed introduction of 119th Constitution Amendment Bill in Rajya Sabha.

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