The government may not push the contentious land bill in the upcoming monsoon session of Parliament, but will keep it in operation through another ordinance as the focus is squarely on the passage of the Goods and Services Tax bill.
The joint committee on the land bill, headed by BJP’s Surinder Singh Ahluwalia, is also set to seek further extension till August 3 to produce a report. The panel, witnessing widely diverse opinions, is still striving to arrive at a consensus on the bill.
The next ordinance will be the record fourth time on the land bill. The ordinance was promulgated for the third time on May 31.
In the last meeting, senior government officials made themselves unavailable for deposition: a rare incident that Opposition leaders claimed another indication that the government was dragging its feet on the contentious bill that aims to hike compensation for farmers but takes away their rights to reject any acquisition bid.
Sources in the government see nothing unusual in the re-promulgation of the land ordinance. They said at least 15 ordinances have been promulgated twice or more.
An ordinance, which has a life span of six months otherwise, has to be re-promulgated if it does not get the endorsement of Parliament within six weeks of the start of a session. The monsoon session starts on July 21 and ends on August 13.
The land ordinance was first brought in December 2014 amid fierce protests by the Opposition. President Pranab Mukherjee had reportedly sought further explanations from senior ministers on the reasons behind bringing an ordinance.
Top government sources said the government was not keen on bringing the land bill before the crucial Bihar assembly slated for October.
In a recent meeting of chief ministers with the PM on the bill, even BJP allies like PDP and Akali Dal had expressed reservations.
(With PTI inputs)