“We [BJP] are here to hit fours and sixes. We don’t play on back foot,” said Union roads and transport minister Nitin Gadkari, who was in Maharashtra to bat for the proposed central land acquisition amendment bill 2015, which has been facing several protests throughout the country.
Emphasising that the bill was ‘not anti-farmer’, Gadkari, while talking to the media on Friday, said he will reach out to the BJP’s disgruntled allies like the Shiv Sena and social activist Anna Hazare to address their objections to the legislation.
Around midnight, Gadkari met Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray and urged him not to oppose the bill. He explained to Thackeray the bill was not anti-farmer.
He said opposition to the law was based on perception and not facts.
“In Maharashtra itself, farmers will get four times the compensation. I do agree that the 80% consent clause has been dropped, which is a matter of contention for many. But do understand that this is for social and rural infrastructure projects, which include schools, hospitals and irrigation projects. They will boost opportunities for the rural population,” he said.
Citing how the legislation would give an impetus to Maharashtra’s irrigation sector, which has only 16.8% land under irrigation, he said not a single irrigation project has been able to come up so far because it requires 80% of the farmers give consent. “Inadequate irrigation has resulted in the rise in farmer suicides and it will continue to happen if we wait for consent,” he said.
He said their government will ensure that none of the acquired land will be for private development.
“We are giving an exemption to the industrial corridor. This will only ensure there will be agro units and industries alongside small towns and villages that will create employment,” he added.
Uddhav, who was addressing his cadre on Marathi Bhasha Diwas in Mumbai, said no one should force the Sena on the land acquisition bill.