Airing strong reservations over the contentious land acquisition bill, Punjab’s ruling Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), an ally of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government at the Centre, on Tuesday opposed the land acquisition without the farmers’ approval and demanded to restore the consent clause in the proposed legislation.
By distancing itself from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the Lok Sabha on the land acquisition bill, the anxious SAD, which has been under attack from the opposition Congress on the issue, has attempted to send a message across to the farmers that the Akali Dal is protecting their vital interests.
During a debate on the bill, the SAD, as part of its floor strategy, fielded Khadoor Sahib MP Ranjit Singh Brahmpura who pressed for restoring the consent clause, saying the absence of consent clause will lead to unrest among the farmers.
“The farmer is the owner of his land. How can you acquire his land without his consent?” Brahmpura told Hindustan Times over phone, saying that the “consent clause is must” was at the core of his brief intervention as an Akali MP in the Lok Sabha.
Brahmpura said: “I said land should not be acquired without the farmers’ consent… not seeking consent is wrong. This issue should be looked into by the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC). I said the government should send the bill to the JPC for discussion on its clauses and incorporate the amendments such as having a consent clause.”
Brahmpura, the first-term MP and confidant of chief minister Parkash Singh Badal, said: “I aired the reservations of the SAD with full force… forceful acquisition will only boomerang. I said on the floor of the House to incorporate provisions of the Punjab policy on land acquisition as it has been successful and appreciated by the farmers who are given huge compensation at the market rate. There has been no litigation also.”
It was after the Punjab Congress had questioned the silence of the ruling Akali Dal over the bill that the SAD’s core committee decided to oppose any land acquisition without the consent of a majority of the farmers a month back. Also the Akali Dal’s stand has been that the government should acquire land only for a public purpose and not for private entities and that the consent clause should be restored.
SAD’s suggestions to Centre