Sena up in arms, SAD not happy: Allies add to BJP's land bill woes

  • HT Correspondent and Agencies
  • Updated: Feb 25, 2015 13:48 IST

The Bharatiya Janata Party government already has its back to the wall with an united opposition standing firm against the land acquisition bill and now its close allies too are resisting the changes even as it indicated there could be amendments to accommodate their concerns.

Hectic consultations within and outside the government continued throughout the day on Tuesday after rural development minister Birender Singh tabled the land acquisition bill in Lok Sabha amidst walkout by almost the entire opposition.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and a number of ministers gave enough signals to indicate that the exercise of taking note of farmers'concerns was on and changes may be incorporated in the bill.

At the meeting of the BJP parliamentary party Modi made it clear that there was no going back on the law but said government was open to suggestions in the interest of farmers.

Finance minister Arun Jaitley told Rajya Sabha that government was keen to hold discussions with all parties to find a way out while farmer representatives who met home minister Rajnath Singh claimed that government gave an assurance that it would keep in mind their concerns while enacting the land acquisition law.

Naidu apprised the NDA MPs of the provisions of the new law and removed some of their misgivings saying there is a disinformation campaign by the opposition in this regard. The exercise was aimed at seeking suggestions and feedback from MPs to make the law more effective.

However, for the record Modi asked party MPs to "bust the myths" propagated by Opposition parties on it, sources said.

Naidu later said many NDA MPs gave a suggestion that land where projects were cleared but not taken off even after 20 years of acquisition should be given back to farmers.

He said the land ordinance was brought after as many as 32 states and Union Territories had sought amendment in the law because infrastructure development was held up.

Naidu told the MPs that any laws brought by the state in this regard would not be over ruled by the central law.

With Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal declaring his support to Anna Hazare's agitation against the bill, which farmers say should have provisions for 70% consent from land owners for projects and making the social impact assessment mandatory, the BJP already had its hands full.

Adding to its headache, the Shiv Sena, Shiromani Akali Dal and Swabhimani Paksha have asked the government to do a rethink on certain provisions of the bill which they say is ''anti-farmer" and "anti-poor.''

While Shiv Sena skipped a meeting of lawmakers from the ruling coalition to discuss strategy in the face of opposition onslaught, the Akali Dal conveyed that it is not too happy with the bill.

Here is what these allies and some opposition leaders had to say:

Shiv Sena

Shiv Sena, the BJP's oldest ally and is also the second largest in the NDA with 18 MPs in Lok Sabha and 3 in Rajya Sabha, came out in public to oppose the new bill and skipped the meeting.

"Shiv Sena is also not against the farmer... We will deliberate within the party and then announce our opinion," said senior Sena leader Sanjay Raut.

Thackeray issued a statement saying his party cannot commit the "sin" of squeezing the throat of farmers and they would not support "any decision which throttles the farmers".

"The Shiv Sena will not back any central government decision that is anti-farmer. The central government should remember that farmers had elected it with great hope," Thackeray said.


The SAD (Badal) attended the meeting but conveyed to the BJP leadership its strong opposition to the "anti-farmer" changes in the land acquisition law.

It also said that there should be consensus among the parties and the farmers' views need to be incorporated hoping the government will take corrective steps.

"We have 3-4 main objections, which I said at the meeting today (Tuesday). The farmers are unhappy with the changes and I said the same at the meeting. A way will have to be found to ensure that there is no discrimination with the poor farmers in the name of development," The Indian Express quoted SAD (Badal) MP from Anandpur Sahib Prem Singh Chandumajra as saying.

The SAD also raised its objection to the clause in the ordinance that dilutes the social impact assessment as well as the one dealing
with consent.

"We are also opposed to the changes to Section 24 of the act that narrows down the scope of the retrospective clause by reducing the number of beneficiaries," Chandumajra told the Express.

According to reports, Akali leader Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa also said the party will oppose it if the Punjab land act has to be altered following the new land law.

Swabhimani Paksha

The government also faced criticism from the Swabhimani Paksha, a minor ally, over the introduction of the bill in Lok Sabha.

"I oppose the bill because good days will not follow for farmers once it is enacted. Instead, the bad days will be here. I warn the
government that if this is passed, the farmer will never pardon this government," Express quoted Raju Shetti as saying.

Janata Dal (United)

Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar described the bill as a "black law" and demanded its immediate recall.

"The land acquisition bill is anti-farmer and pro-rich. It seems to have taken the heart out of the legislation prepared in 2013," said Kumar.

Kumar, who assumed charge as Bihar CM for the fourth time two days back, said "We will not implement the land bill in the state at any cost."

He added the bill seems to have been introduced to cater to the needs of rich and big corporate houses at the cost of the interest of farmers and poor.

He also backed Hazare's agitation over land acquisition bill and promised all support to him on the issue.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi used to make tall claims regarding farmers and poor but "his act is contrary to the promises made," Kumar said adding "development should be inclusive and not unilateral".

Samajwadi Party

Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav slammed the Centre for "taking an anti-farmer stand" with the introduction of controversial land acquisition bill in Lok Sabha and warned of its serious implications for the future of the country.

He said the government should have evolved a consensus before its introduction and that the concerns of the farmers should have been adequately addressed in the legislation.

"The entire opposition is against the bill and we are surprised that this government is time and again taking anti-farmer stand and is favouring industrialised. Farmer has nothing except the land in his possession. Farmer's consent is must," he told reporters outside Parliament.

He referred to a similar legislation passed by his government in Uttar Pradesh which makes the consent of farmers mandatory and provides adequate compensation to the affected ones.

"It (the bill) will have serious implications for the country in future," he warned.

Singh said he was unaware of an all party meet called by the government to discuss the bill and said such a move should have been initiated before the introduction of the legislation.

(With PTI inputs)

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