West Bengal polls: Parties scramble to take credit for resolving enclave issues

Coochbehar: With the residents of 51 enclaves all set to vote in West Bengal for the first time since Independence on Thursday, the new voters are being aggressively wooed by various political parties, who are taking credit for resolving the 68-year old border dispute.

"It is our government which has resolved this enclave problem. None of the previous state governments could address the same. But we had solved this problem and given you the rights," Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee said at various rallies in Coochbehar district.

Banerjee's comments are echoed by party's district President Rabindranath Ghosh who promised to usher in development if TMC won in Coochbehar.

The BJP, which is heading the NDA government at the Centre, also took the credit of resolving the enclave

"It was our government at the Centre that took the initiative and solved the problem. We have been with the people of enclaves from the very beginning and our government has been very proactive," BJP National Secretary Rahul Sinha said.

Mamata Banerjee. PTI

Mamata Banerjee. PTI

The 51 enclaves are spread across Dinhata, Mekliganj, Sitai, Sitalkuchi and Toofanganj Assembly constituencies, with over 14864 residents has over 9776 registered voters.

The six Assembly constituencies were Mekhliganj (584), Sitalkuchi (1980), Sitai (1362), Dinhata (5605), Natabari (0) and Tufanganj (9).

Out of 9540 eligible voters 9209 enrolled themselves to vote on 5 May  in 41 polling stations. There were 567 more voters among the 922 people in the settlements in Coochbehar.

In the Sitalkuchi and Sitai assembly constituencies, where TMC and their then alliance partner Congress had won with a slender margin of 257 and 1577 votes in last assembly polls, the votes of enclave dwellers could play a vital role as well as in Dinhata.

Striking a different note, the CPM, however, refuted the claims by TMC and BJP and said that both the parties had stalled the enclave exchange during the UPA rule.

"Both the parties have stalled the process of enclave exchange during UPA rule. It was the rehabilitation package that ensured that the state agreed to give a nod to the enclave exchange," CPM Politburo member Mohammed Salim told PTI.

"We from the very beginning had stood by the cause of the people residing in enclaves. And it was the Left who have been fighting for their cause," Salim said.

The Congress too rubbished the claims of Banerjee and BJP.

"The TMC's claim is absolutely baseless. It was TMC who had opposed the solution to enclave problem during the UPA regime. And if the problem is being addressed it is being solved only because of the recommendations of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on home affairs," MP and Chairman of Standing committee on Home Affairs, Pradip Bhattacharya told this correspondent.


Bangladesh and India exchanged 162 adversely-held enclaves on August one at the stroke of midnight, ending one of the world's most complex border disputes.

Altogether 111 Indian enclaves measuring 17,160 acres became Bangladesh territory and similarly 51 Bangladesh enclaves, measuring 7,110 acres, became Indian territory.

The 51 enclaves are spread across Dinhata, Mekliganj, Sitai, Sitalkuchi and Toofanganj Assembly constituencies.

Chief Coordinator of Bharat Bangladesh Enclave Exchange Coordination Committee Diptiman Sengupta, fighting for the rights of the enclave dwellers for a long time, said political parties were never bothered about the well being of enclave dwellers as they were not voters.

"None of the political parties never bothered about the enclave dwellers. But now as they have become voters, with a total population of near about 15,000, political parties are trying to woo them," Sengupta said.

Sengupta said that the voters will pitch for that particular party which will promise to look into the issue of
job reservation for enclave dwellers and quick disposal of land settlement.

"The people there want at least 10 per cent reservation in government jobs and that all development work in the enclaves be carried out through the active involvement of the residents and quick disposal of land settlement," he pointed out.

Meanwhile, 24-year-old the Joynal Abedin, an enclave-dweller, whose three generations will together vote this time, said the respective political party which gives them written assurance about those aabove-referred three issues will garner the votes.

Updated Date: May 04, 2016 12:47 PM

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