Thursday’s merger of erstwhile Janata Parivar parties could spell trouble for the NDA’s land bill plans with senior ministers no longer sure they can win the support of the Samajwadi Party (SP).
They suspect that SP may now dither under pressure from the Janata Dal (United) and the Rashtriya Janata Dal, who want to make it an electoral issue in Bihar assembly election later this year.
“Initially, the SP appeared a bit open to discussing the land bill with us. But, we are apprehensive if things will remain the same after merger of the six parties, which Mulayam will lead,” a minister involved in negotiating with opposition parties said.
Overtures to Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav have not got a response, a source said.
“The land bill seems to be heading towards a joint session,” a cabinet minister said.
The NDA won’t face a problem in the Lok Sabha, where it has a comfortable majority. The problem lies in the Rajya Sabha where opposition parties have joined ranks and outnumber the ruling alliance. “Their combined strength in the 245-member strong Rajya Sabha is 90-plus MPs,” the cabinet minister said.
NDA’s key to passing the bill in the upper house lies with Biju Janata Dal’s 7 MPs, SP’s 15 MPs and a few others.
Finance minister Arun Jaitley, parliamentary affairs minister M Venkaiah Naidu and others are working overtime to win support for the bill and giving regular updates to Prime Minister Modi.
Sources said Jaitley had dinner with Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik, who heads the BJD, on Sunday where the land bill was part of a larger discussion on state-related projects.