The government’s hopes of evolving a consensus among political parties on the land bill dashed further after 11 state governments, including all nine Congress-ruled ones, boycotted the Prime Minister’s meeting here on Wednesday.
Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal were also not represented while three CMs -- those of Odisha, Telangana and Tamil Nadu -- chose not to attend the meeting but sent emissaries.
Sources told HT that two allies of the BJP -- Punjab CM Parkash Singh Badal and J&K CM Mufti Md. Sayeed advised the Centre to be cautious.
Three Opposition CMs -- Tripura’s Manik Sarkar, Delhi’s Arvind Kejriwal and Bihar’s Nitish Kumar -- rejected the proposed amendments to the bill.
“Overall, majority of the states are opposed to the Land Bill,” Sarkar told HT.
As all Congress CMs boycotted the second meeting of the Niti Aayog’s governing council, finance minister Arun Jaitley alleged that Congress is against the “spirit of cooperative federalism”.
In the meeting, Sayeed asked the Centre to continue to try and arrive at a consensus on the bill. Badal told Modi that the message has already spread among farmers in Punjab that the bill is against their interests, and that the Centre must take steps to counter this perception.
Sarkar, the only Left CM, batted for retaining the consent clause and the social impact assessment in the bill. He also opposed the expansion of Industrial corridor up to one kilometre from roads or rail links. “The bill helps industrialists, not farmers,” he told HT.
Although Tamil Nadu and Odisha CMs did not come to the meeting, their parties are also opposed to many provisions of the proposed law.
The Niti Aayog meeting on the land bill was held a week before parliament’s monsoon session starts on July 21.
The parliamentary joint committee on the land bill, engaged in wider consultations with different stakeholders on the proposed law, has until now reached nowhere close to any consensus.