UPA gets a bout of Mamata migraine

UPA gets a bout of Mamata migraine


Railway Minister and All India Trinamool Congress (AITC) chief, Mamata Banerjee, vociferously opposed the bills during the Union Cabinet meeting that went on till late Thursday night. She is believed to have threatened to even walk out of the meeting once.

The Cabinet approved the bills with a dissenting note from Banerjee. But the AITC on Friday said it would oppose the bills when they are introduced in the Lok Sabha.
The Congress and the AITC, however, are understood to have agreed on a compromise formula according to which the bills would be referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee after being introduced in the Lok Sabha.

“We also want the archaic British-era Land Acquisition Act to be amended, but we want it to be thoroughly examined in the Parliamentary Standing Committee,” said the AITC MP and chief whip Sudip Bandopadhyay. He, however, said the AITC had no rift with the Congress.With 19 MPs and another independent loyal to it, the AITC is the largest ally of the Congress in the UPA.

Crucial support
Banerjee’s support is crucial for the government, as its “outside supporters” like Mulayam Singh Yadav’s Samajwadi Party and Lalu Prasad’s Rashtriya Janata Dal are becoming aggressively hostile at least on the floor of the Lok Sabha.

The Land Acquisition (Amendment) bill seeks to allow industry to acquire 70 per cent of the land needed directly from farmers and get the rest with the help of the government. But Banerjee wants the industrial organisation to acquire the entire land. She insists that the bill must have provisions to ensure that the private developers cannot force the farmers to part with their fertile land. She is also opposed to acquiring multi-crop land and stressed that barren or, in rare cases, single-crop land should be preferred for acquisition.

Banerjee’s opposition to the Land Acquisition (Amendment) Bill was expected as it deals with an issue that is very sensitive for the AITC, which is now gearing up for the 2011 Assembly polls in West Bengal hoping to end the 32-year-long rule of the Left Front in the state.

The AITC’s agitation against acquisition of farmland for industrial purposes in West Bengal helped the party have an unprecedented success in the Lok Sabha polls in April-May. The Left Front could win just 15 of the 42 Lok Sabha seats in what was once a communist citadel.

Both the bills were first introduced in the 14th Lok Sabha on December 7, 2007, and sent to the Parliamentary Standing Committee. The Lok Sabha passed the bills on February 25, this year. But both bills lapsed, as the Rajya Sabha failed to pass them before the last session of the 14th Lok Sabha concluded on February 27. The government now needs to re-introduce the bills.  

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