The government today decided to avoid repeated confrontation with the opposition over the land ordinance, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi announcing it will not be promulgated for the fourth time as his rivals claimed credit for making it "bow down" on the contentious issue.
The controversial ordinance will expire tomorrow and the government now is likely to take the legislative route for enactment of a national land acquisition law. Facing sustained onslaught for promulgating the ordinance thrice in the past, Modi announced the decision not to do that again but slammed the opposition for creating an environment of "misapprehension and fear" over the measure despite several states suggesting amendments to the 2013 land acquisition law enacted by the UPA government.
"We had promulgated an Ordinance on Land Acquisition Bill which will expire tomorrow. I have decided that it should be allowed to expire. It means restoration of the situation that prevailed before my government took over," the Prime Minister said in his monthly radio programme 'Mann Ki Baat'.
The government has failed to pass the land acquisition bill in Parliament following sustained and concerted campaign against the legislation from the opposition parties as also some NDA allies.
"This is an anti-farmer government. They want to grab their land and distribute it among their rich friends. We fought for the protection of farmers' rights in the Parliament and in the end government had to bow down," Congress president Sonia Gandhi asserted at a joint rally of the newly formed 'Grand Secular Alliance' for Bihar polls in Patna.
"Today when 'Swambhiman rally' is being organised in Patna, the PM was forced to bend and retreat his steps on land acquisition Bill," said Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar. "Today what Prime Minister spoke was not the voice of his heart, it was the voice from the people's heart which made him bow down," he said.
In Delhi, Congress spokesman Abhishek Singhvi said the nation had lost eight months due to the politics of "obstinacy, rigidity and non-engagement" followed by the Modi government.
"I want to remind for the past eight months the country has lost time out of politics of obstinacy, rigidity, non-engagement. Politics of ego does not serve national interests," he said.
Speaking separately, senior party leader Jairam Ramesh, who was the brain behind the UPA's land acquisition Act, said "truth has triumphed (Satyamev Jayate)". Ramesh was the Rural Development Minister in the UPA Government when the measure was passed in Parliament in 2013.
In his 20 minute address, Modi insisted the voice of farmers mattered the most to him and that the government had an open mind on Land Acquisition Bill about which there was a lot of controversy. "I have said it again and again that I am ready to accept any suggestion for the benefit of farmers," he said.
Modi alleged the opposition created unnecessary "misapprehension and fear" among the farmers over the issue.
"A lot of misapprehensions were created, so much fear was instilled among the farmers. The farmers should neither have doubts nor any fear and I will not give any such opportunity to anybody .... Now there is no cause for any doubt and if anybody tries to create fear, you should not be scared," he said.
Singhvi said the Prime Minister's announcement suggests that the legislation will be brought in its original form after the constant flip-flop by the Modi dispensation.