The Bihar government has ruled out legislation on sharecropper rights and said that no one in the state will lose land ownership.
However, it will look at sharecropper rights in the light of existing laws and the recommendations of a commission.
At an interactive session of Hindustan newspaper, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Tuesday said: “Nobody is going to lose ownership rights over land. The government has no plans to enact legislation to protect sharecroppers. If such a law had not been passed in a state like West Bengal, known for radical land reforms, how can it be done in Bihar?”
“However, the last word on land reforms has not been said so far,” he added.
The session — Hindustan Samagam — was organised as part of a build-up to the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit, 2009, to be held on October 30-31.
Kumar said that the government was not bound to implement the suggestions of the commission.
“In Bihar the land mass is fragmented and we need massive consolidation before discussing rights or land reforms. We need to examine the entire issue in the light of existing sharecroppers laws,” he added.
Debabrata Bandyopadhyay, a retired Indian Administrative Service officer of the West Bengal cadre, headed the commission.
As a bureaucrat, Bandyopadhyay was instrumental in implementing the West Bengal government’s land reforms, something that has enabled the Left to stay in power since 1977.
The commission, set up by the Nitish Kumar government in 2006, has recommended giving full protection to sharecroppers.
The issue has become controversial because major political parties, including the left, have been demanding that the recommendations be implemented.