BJP gets desperate to woo farmers, calls land ordinance 'pro-poor'

  • Vikas Pathak, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Feb 25, 2015 01:34 IST

Even as opposition to the land acquisition Ordinance became more strident with Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal joining hands with social activist Anna Hazare to resist it, the BJP on Tuesday stepped up efforts to defend its Ordinance as a “pro-poor”, “pro-farmer” step.

This bid was marked by tweets on the BJP’s official twitter handle, defending the measure as “pro-farmer” and Prime Minister Narendra Modi telling BJP MPs to be confident that the Ordinance was “pro-development” and in national interest. The party also offered the media a detailed defence of the measure, labelling the opposition on the streets as a conspiracy to malign the government.

Social activists Anna Hazare and Medha Patkar — alongside a wide array of farmers’ bodies, including RSS-allied Bharatiya Kisan Sangh — are opposing the Ordinance, labelling it pro-corporate and anti-farmer. They have particularly faulted the Ordinance for removing the consent clause for the acquisition of lands for some specific purposes and doing away with social impact assessment.

At the same time, however, there were hints that the party would be open to accommodate dissenting voices. Party chief Amit Shah has appointed an internal committee led by former Union minister Satyapal Malik to look into the suggestions made by farmers.

The party’s defence of its land acquisition move was elaborate.

“It appears that Anna Hazare has fallen in the hands of those international forces who want to keep India under-developed. Medha Patkar opposed Narmada dam also,” said a party note rebutting the criticism. “Anna is failing to understand that farmers’ sons and daughters now want modern amenities and jobs. They want to work not on fields but on infrastructure projects, manufacturing and service units. Can he stop this change-from rural to urban orientation, from foot-walk to motor driving?”

The note added, “The Ordinance does not even touch the compensation part.” It added that the UPA’s 2013 law mandating consent from 80 % farmers would have made land acquisition difficult and helped only middlemen.

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