The land ordinance entirely dominated the BJP’s two-day national executive with the leadership on Saturday vowing to fight what it called the Opposition’s “disinformation campaign” to project it as “anti-farmer” and “pro-corporate” — reflecting the jitters in the government over its contentious legislation.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who has led the defence of the new land acquisition policy these past two day, launched another attack on the Congress, accusing its previous government of working for the rich through its 10 years in power. He also set the BJP a target of wooing the poor through various schemes, saying “Dalits, oppressed, underprivileged and poor should be central to our thoughts”.
Almost all speakers on the concluding day of the meet — including Union ministers Arun Jaitley, Nitin Gadkari, M Venkaiah Naidu and Rajnath Singh — dwelt at length on the positive aspects of the land bill, which found mention in a political resolution adopted during the day. A power-point presentation was also made about the changes the Centre wanted to make to the bill.
In fact, short of a brief presentation on the J&K government formation exercise and undercurrents of tension from a sulking LK Advani, the entire conclave was dominated by the land bill.
The PM and BJP chief Amit Shah had put up a strong defence of the law on Friday, asserting that changes were needed in the legislation to push growth and give relief to farmers by way of jobs and rural infrastructure creation. The party is in the process of finalising a mass contact programme and also considering a series of rallies to defend the bill.
“The chinta (concern), if any, is only about the Opposition’s disinformation campaign. We won’t allow this disinformation campaign, which is baseless. The party will reveal the facts at every village and tell people we have come with a law that is in favour of farmers and people,” commerce minister Nirmala Sitharaman said. “We told our party leaders the government’s only intention is to help farmers.”
Members were given booklets, titled ‘Information About Disinformation’, that said the reality was different from that propagated by the Opposition.
“There was a strong view in the meeting to campaign on the issue and back the government’s initiatives,” Jaitley told reporters. However, he also extended an olive branch to the Opposition by adding, “We are ready to accept constructive suggestions and make more changes.”
In concluding remarks, the PM referred to how the Opposition had earlier said he would favour the rich by hiking gas prices after coming to power. The reality, he said, was that his government had nearly halved gas prices. Similarly, he said, it had eliminated middlemen, and brought down the price of LED bulbs to `80 from `250 during the UPA days.
Tomtoming the NDA’s other initiatives too, Modi said Swachch Bharat would give the poor a healthy and clean environment, eventually bringing down their medical expenses and helping them save money.
“The key to our growth model is that the economy should grow and the benefits percolate to the poor by way of jobs and poverty alleviation programmes that would require more resources,” Jaitley elaborated.
The PM said the huge amount of money generated from the auction of coal blocks and mines would be used for the poor, unlike the UPA that he said had given away these resources to the rich for almost nothing.