Railways Minister Mamata Banerjee, who has been opposing the proposed land acquisition bill that will be brought in the winter session of Parliament, failed to turn up at a meeting convened on the same by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee on Monday.
The Land Acquisition (Amendment) Bill that is in works for more than six years to replace a 116-year-old archaic law is put on hold by UPA-2 given the opposition from its main ally.
Though, according to sources, the meeting on Monday was scheduled between Finance Minster Mukherjee, Banerjee and Rural Development Minister C.P. Joshi to reach an amicable position or settlement to save face for Mamata, Banerjee was not present in the meet.
“I do not know if she was to attend … as I was informed about the meet, I went to brief Mukherjee on the bill,” Joshi said after the meet.
With the issue of land resurfacing time-to-time and pushing the government into a tight spot, sources hinted Mukherjee could meet Mamata in next few days to negotiate a settlement. Winter session begins on November 9.
Mamata Banerjee, who led the agitation against land acquisition in Singur and Nandigram and was instrumental in driving the Tatas out of Bengal, is opposed to the provisions of the bill, which provide for government’s intervention in acquiring land for the industry.
Busy preparing for 2011 elections, where ‘she is poised to grab power’ from the Left, the Railway Minister in Manmohan Singh cabinet does not want to be seen as approving of the bill, which contradicts her stand.
Even as it is making efforts to bring her on board with the bill, the government thinks the time is ripe for the bill, given the protests surrounding land acquisition.
“It has been about two years this government is in place. It cannot afford to hold the bill back any longer. The opposition is political and nothing else,” a top government source said.