Wary of anti-farmer tag, BJP leaders flag land bill concerns to PM | india | Hindustan Times
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Wary of anti-farmer tag, BJP leaders flag land bill concerns to PM

Bubbling murmurs within the BJP over the perceived anti-farmer tag attached to the government’s proposed land acquisition law have reached Prime Minister Narendra Modi and prompted the leadership to allay fears of the party’s largest block, its MPs from Uttar Pradesh.

india Updated: Mar 05, 2015 02:37 IST
Kumar Uttam

Bubbling murmurs within the BJP over the perceived anti-farmer tag attached to the government’s proposed land acquisition law have reached Prime Minister Narendra Modi and prompted the leadership to allay fears of the party’s largest block, its MPs from Uttar Pradesh.

The government faced questions from BJP members for the first time on the bill to amend the land law when one of the MPs, a prominent Gujjar leader from western UP, openly expressed concerns at a party dinner discourse in Delhi on Tuesday night.
The party has 71 Lok Sabha members from the state and a major chunk of them was at the dinner to discuss the growing perception that the just-introduced bill to ease land acquisition norms could dent the BJP’s popularity among farmers, who constitute the majority of the electorate.

Hukum Singh, a first-time MP for Kairana, said the party’s image has taken a hit because farmers fear the government was allowing companies to usurp their land by bringing an amended acquisition law.

“Farmers have an emotional and psychological bonding with land. There can be no compensation, whatsoever, to make up for it,” he said in front of Modi, party chief Amit Shah and senior ministers Rajnath Singh and Nitin Gadkari.

The MP asked the leadership to reconsider making changes to the land law, which was passed two years ago by the UPA government of the time.

Transport minister Gadkari, who held the rural development portfolio during the discussion stage of the proposed changes, appealed to the MPs to toe the party line and listed the benefits the new law would bring to farmers and landowners.

Gadkari said the new law would create jobs, build infrastructure and propel economic growth.

Home minister Singh echoed his cabinet colleague’s opinion, asking the MPs to support the government’s reformist decision. He told them to ignore “short-term losses” and look forward to “long-term benefits” that the amended legislation is expected to fetch.

The Prime Minister maintained a studied silence on the subject.

What made up for the murmurs of dissent was the voice of support from two Uttar Pradesh parliamentarians of the party to the government’s move. Virendra Singh and Mahendra Nath Pandey called the bill pro-farmer and pro-growth.

The routine get-together, called when a Parliament session is on, turned into a test case for the BJP brass to assess the mood within the party on the land bill that was tabled in Parliament this budget session.

Dissenting voices in its rank and file add to the fire the government has been fighting against a united Opposition bent on stonewalling the amendments — especially in the Rajya Sabha where the NDA doesn’t have the numbers to see them through.