Land bill row: BJP forms panel to seek farmers' suggestions, Oppn stages walkout in LS

  • HT Correspondent and Agencies, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Feb 24, 2015 18:40 IST

In the face of an onslaught by a united Opposition, the BJP on Tuesday formed a committee to seek farmers' suggestions on a land bill hours after the Narendra Modi government tabled it to replace the contentious ordinance in Lok Sabha.

According to PTI, Bharatiya Janata Party president Amit Shah formed an eight-member panel to look into the farmers' demands.

Meanwhile, the government's move to place in bill in the Lower House triggered protests, as the Opposition staged a walkout in Lok Sabha and demanded a debate on the issue.

The Opposition has remained firm that the land ordinance, along with five more, would not be allowed to go through Parliament. The government is racing against time to convert the six ordinances into bills in the first part of the Budget session, which comes to an end on March 20.

Rural development minister Chaudhary Birender Singh introduced the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (Amendment) Bill, 2015.

The government said it will hold discussions in one more attempt to bring all parties on board with its plan as the opposition refused to budge from its stand on multiple ordinances passed by the government in the nine months that it has been in power.

"If the government does not incorporate opposition's suggestions, problems will arise," said Congress leader Rajiv Shukla.

According to NDTV, Prime Minister Modi told his party MPs at a weekly party meeting earlier in day that the land bill - criticised as "anti-farmer" by the opposition - will in fact help the poor.

Modi will hold a meeting with BJP lawmakers and those from allied parties later in the evening as the government works on its floor strategy, the news channel added.

"The BJP and NDA leaders will discuss land bill later today to make it more effective," minister of state for parliamentary affairs Rajiv Pratap Rudy was quoted as saying by ANI.

"We welcome farmers' suggestions. We will meet a delegation of farmers," assured Union home minister Rajnath Singh.

Defending the government, finance minister Arun Jaitley had earlier said it is well within its rights to take the ordinance route.

"The reasoning that ordinances are to circumvent or bypass Parliament is not rational. The UPA took the path several times," said Jaitley in Rajya Sabha.

Hitting out at Jaitley, Congress leader Anand Sharma said, "You expect Parliament to rubberstamp your ordinances... You don't send anything to the Standing Committee."

The Congress gave a notice for suspension of question hour in the Upper House to discuss the ordinance and its leader Kamal Nath told ANI that his party will oppose the bill strongly.

Earlier in Lok Sabha, Speaker Sumitra Mahajan rejected Congress MP Jyotiraditya Scindia's adjournment motion over land acquisition bill.

It will replace the ordinance promulgated by the government in December last year, which had brought changes in the earlier bill passed in 2013 by the UPA government.

The government had promulgated the ordinance making significant changes in the land act including removal of consent clause for acquiring land for five areas -- industrial corridors, PPP projects, rural infrastructure, affordable housing and defence.

The prime objection to the land acquisition ordinance has been that it removed the need for written consent from 70% of landowners for joint public-private projects.

The ruling BJP also has its hands full after rights activist Anna Hazare on Monday started a protest against the "anti-farmer" land law.

His old associates Arvind Kejriwal and Manish Sisodia, the chief minister of Delhi and his deputy whose Aam Aadmi Party had routed the BJP in the national capital's assembly polls, also joined him on Tuesday.

To make matters worse, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS)-affiliated Bharatiya Kisan Sangh (BKS) has also raised objection to the ordinance, seeing in it a reason for the BJP’s drubbing in Delhi.

The government tried its hand to bring the Opposition on board as PM Modi said dialogue and discussion were an essential part of democracy and hoped for a positive outcome of the budget session.

(With ANI and PTI inputs)

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