Govt to relook at land ordinance

Govt to relook at land ordinance

Centre gives in to Oppn, Sangh pressure

Govt to relook at  land ordinance

On a day when President Pranab Mukherjee assured Parliament that the land acquisition ordinance has been “suitably refined”, the Narendra Modi government showed signs of caving in to criticism from not only the Opposition, but also from within the BJP and Sangh Parivar.

Top BJP leaders held a meeting at Home Minister Rajnath Singh’s residence on Monday evening to find a way out even as social activist Anna Hazare began his agitation here.
The Bharatiya Kisan Union with 26 other farmers associations have decided to take to the streets on March 18 if the government fails to address their concerns on the land acquisition bill.

The government intends to replace the existing ordinance with a bill and will table it in Parliament on Tuesday.

The BJP parliamentary board meeting attended by Union ministers, including Sushma Swaraj, Arun Jaitley, Nitin Gadkari and M Venkaiah Naidu, discussed the land bill.

“Had detailed discussion on issues being raised by farmers’ organisations on land ordinance,” Minister for Chemicals and Fertilisers Ananth Kumar said after the meeting.

Kumar said that Singh and party chief Amit Shah will apprise the prime minister of all matters discussed at the meeting.

BJP sources said the government will accommodate amendments to the land bill and avoid a confrontationist path as it fears that it might lead to collateral damage impacting other crucial reforms such as opening up the insurance sector and coal blocks auction.

Prior to the meeting, Singh heard farmers’ grievances on the land acquisition bill when a delegation called on him. Ekta Parishad spokesperson Aneesh Thillenkery told Deccan Herald that the hour-long discussion with Singh was positive.

“We had demanded that the Land Reforms Council, which has not met in the past two years, be reconstituted. The home minister told us that he will discuss the issue with the prime minister and get back to us soon. On the issue of Right to Shelter, the minister told us that he is 1,000 per cent with the people, Thillenkery said.

Before the beginning of the session, Prime Minister Narendra Modi gave enough indication of reaching out to the Opposition when he told reporters “in a democracy, there should be dialogue, discussion and positive outcome”. Later, Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu virtually expanded the statement when he said: “If there is a broad consensus we can make amendments. The purpose of the ordinance is speedy development and getting investments.”

In his address to the joint session of Parliament, Mukherjee said the government “attaches paramount importance to safeguard the interest of farmers and families affected by land acquisition”. He also informed MPs the “Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act has been suitably refined to minimise certain procedural difficulties in acquisition of land required for critical public projects and for creation of basic amenities like rural housing, schools and hospitals, particularly in remote areas.”

“The Land Acquisition Act was passed after a long talk. We are shocked that there was a need for an Ordinance,” said Congress spokesman Abhishek Manu Singhvi.

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