The land swap between India and Bangladesh has met with stiff opposition in some quarters in Assam. Border villages and student groups have taken the lead. The Asom Ganatantra Parishad (AGP) has called the agreement an act of betrayal. The party has vowed not to let the terrorists be handed over to Bangladesh. The BJP in Assam has combined with the AGP in attacking Manmohan Singh and Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi. According to the deal, India is to get 111 disputed enclaves from Bangladesh while 55 will return to the latter. The pact has already been signed by Manmohan Singh and Sheikh Hasina, Prime Minister of Bangladesh. Tarun Gogoi was present. Both countries have long been seeking such an exchange. The dispute started when fencing began along the border about a decade ago. Bangladesh objected to the fencing of certain areas. Tarun Gogoi sees no point in prolonging the dispute which merely strained relations between the two countries.
The Opposition in Assam has called Tarun Gogoi the weakest Chief Minister in India. It is proved by surrender of territory. A parallel has been drawn with West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee who opposed the Teesta pact as it gave more water to Bangladesh. The common people in the affected enclaves in Assam may be scared of the prospect of exchange. But politicians in Assam are doubtless fishing in troubled waters. The broader objective of an entente with Bangladesh is in India’s national interest which should not be lost sight of in pursuit of regional objectives.