Union minister Nitin Gadkari defended the land acquisition ordinance on Wednesday as “pro-farmer” and “pro-poor”, but added the government was open to accepting “good suggestions”.
He accused the Opposition of double-standards and said state governments run by them, including Congress, had written to the Centre against the UPA’s 2013 land law.
“We are open to accepting good suggestions offered by other parties. If people have some opinion on social impact assessment or consent clauses, we are willing to hear them,” he told reporters.
The BJP’s own allies Shiv Sena and Shiromani Akali Dal have also opposed the move. SAD leaders in Delhi met the finance minister on Wednesday, sources say. SAD leader Naresh Gujral told HT: “We have made some suggestions to the government. We believe the development needs of the country should be balanced with farmers’ interests.” Sources say the SAD representatives have made two key recommendations t: there should be consent of majority of farmers (half or more) and there should be social impact assessment where large tracts of land are being acquired.
Gadkari said it was a battle between “ground reality and perception”. Attacking Congress, he quoted former Maharashtra chief minister Prithviraj Chavan’s letter to then UPA against the 2013 law in which he had argued that it would “adversely” affect public works.
He reiterated that infrastructure works could not be held hostage to the consent of land owners.
“We want to build 2 crore houses as part of our exercise...Will they be built in air? We need land for that,” he said.