Govt ready to talk and change on land bill

Turn around comes after allies and opposition make it tough and worries over other important bills

GN Bureau | February 25, 2015


#land bill   #bjp   #shiv sena   #akali dal   #parliament   #rajya sabha  

While the government keeps a brave face on land acquisition bill even as it tries to open a window of accommodation, the BJP has formed a committee to look into farmer's concerns.

Parliamentary affairs minister Venkiah Naidu told reporters outside Parliament on Wednesday morning that the party has shown willingness to debate the legislation and the opposition should face it instead of running away from discussing it.

He also said that the party had always shown willingness to incorporate any suggestions in connection with the law.

However, on Tuesday prime minister Narendra Modi had asked the party's MPs to bust the 'myths' surrounding the amendments to the land acquisition bill and defend it aggressively in Parliament.

But in the face of opposition from allies Shiv Sena and Shiromani Akali Dal, the BJP was forced to show willingness to modify the legislation to incorporate farmers' suggestions in it.

It has formed a eight-member committee to seek farmers' suggestions on the bill. Former Union Minister Satyapal Malik is the convener of the committee which comprises seven party MPs, including Malik, and has a chartered accountant too. The committee is to hold discussions with farmers and other organisations on land acquisition.

BJP has been refuting the charge that the land bill brought by the government was “anti-farmer” and claimed that “long-term interests” of the agriculturists had been kept in mind while preparing the draft.

 “Opposition parties like Congress, Trinamool, Samajwadi Party and BSP have been carrying out a relentless campaign to create an impression that the ordinance is anti-farmer. We want to make it clear that contrary to their claims, the provisions in the ordinance will provide huge long-term benefits to the farmers of the country,” BJP national secretary Siddharth Nath Singh told reporters here.

He said one of the points on which the ordinance has been called anti-farmer was doing away with the clause which entitled the farmers to get their land back in the event of the project for which it was acquired not getting completed within five years.

“This was necessary as washing hands off projects by returning the land to farmers was earning us a world-wide dubious reputation of India becoming a country of unfinished projects”, Singh said.

Despite all the brave talks and symbolism, the government may have to bend in order to ensure other legislation gets a clear path in the Rajya Sabha along with the land bill as it lacks majority in this upper house.

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