Union home minister Rajnath Singh has expressed confidence that the contentious Land Acquisition Bill will be passed by the Rajya Sabha in the monsoon session of the Parliament, without specifying how the government will manage to make up the numbers in the upper house.
The bill, a modified version of an earlier one introduced under the UPA regime, has faced flak from opposition parties for being anti-farmer. It seeks to replace an ordinance and has been referred to a 30-member joint committee of both houses of Parliament.
“The bill has already been passed in the Lok Sabha. Now I am confident that it will be passed in the Rajya Sabha in the coming monsoon session,” Singh said at a press conference on Tuesday. Asked specifically whether he was expecting support from the Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress in getting the bill passed, Singh said, “Not just Trinamool Congress, we are even seeking support from the Congress.”
The home minister’s comments come at a time when speculation is rife that the BJP might get indirect support from the Trinamool Congress and some other regional parties. Their MPs walking out in protest against the bill and abstaining from voting on it could be one such method to lend indirect help. The Trinamool Congress's main political plank in Bengal has rested on its anti-land acquisition struggle, so it can't be seen supporting the bill without damaging its image.
The BJP’s strength in the 244-member Rajya Sabha stands at just 47 against Congress’s 68, Trinamool Congress’s 12, AIADMK’s 11 and CPI(M)’s 9, apart from other parties.
“During the UPA regime, centre-state relations were quite unstable but these have become quite steady under the present regime,” Singh said, emphasising the government's commitment to upholding the federal structure of the country.
Meanwhile, Singh evaded a media query on the controversy over the purchase of Rafale fighter jets from France which triggered differences within the BJP itself, with party leader Subramanian Swamy threatening to move court once the deal is signed. “To my knowledge, there are no more differences in opinion among us on this matter,” Singh said.