The government is trying to get regional outfits like the Samajwadi Party, Shiv Sena and BJD on board to support the land bill as it finds itself within striking distance of passing the legislation in the Rajya Sabha where the NDA does not have a majority.
With virtually no possibility of the Congress and Left parties — which have a combined strength of 79 MPs in the upper House — supporting the land bill, an array of regional outfits with 54 MPs in the 244-member House may turn the tables in favour of the NDA.
Ten parties, including NDA partners and independents who support the bill, add up to 87 MPs. The Modi government needs 36 MPs to reach the majority mark if all Rajya Sabha members vote over the bill.
To woo these parties, the government has indicated its readiness to further change the ordinance, including giving farmers some power to reject any acquisition bid.
Samajwadi Party (SP) sources say its leadership was also of the view that the changes were necessary and the government had done its best at this point of time. Still, the SP leadership did not find it to be prudent to side with the government when Congress chief Sonia Gandhi was leading a march to Rashtrapati Bhawan on the land issue.
“There is scope for taking the SP on board. We may have to give some extra concessions to win over the ruling party of UP, which realises the need to ease acquisition process. We are hopeful,” said a government source.
A fresh ordinance on the land bill is due next week and it will come up for Parliament’s approval when the budget session re-convenes on April 20.
The BJD, with seven MPs in the Rajya Sabha, has also shown its inclination to support the land bill. “We had suggested amendments to the ordinance and all of them were accepted. We are happy with the land bill,” BJD leader in Lok Sabha Bhartruhari Mahtab said.
Efforts are also on to see if the Trinamool Congress and the JD(U) at least walk out and do not vote along with the Congress and the Left in the Rajya Sabha.
While talks are on with the SP, communication channels are also open with BSP, which has 10 MPs. “Our final position on the land bill is not clear yet,” a Rajya Sabha MP of the BSP told HT.
Government sources suggested that ruling side managers have been in touch with the SP and BJD for some time now and sources claimed the nine amendments that the government made to the land ordinance were discussed with them.
Given the current position of different parties on the land bill, the BJP sits comfortably if a joint session of both Houses is required to pass the legislation. But if the Congress and the Left manage to bring fence-sitters like the SP, Trinamool, NCP and BSP on board, they may be able to send the bill to a select or standing committee, thereby delaying its passage.
Ally Shiv Sena — which has three MPs in the Rajya Sabha — is yet to come on board. “We are working on it and we hope we will be able to find a solution to it,” a top BJP leader said. The Shiv Sena had abstained from voting on the land bill in the Lok Sabha.