Toeing the party line, Himachal Pradesh chief minister Virbhadra Singh on Wednesday did not attend the second NITI Aayog governing council meeting presided over by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to discuss the contentious land bill.
The chief minister who is in the national capital for the past two days had earlier directed additional chief secretary (revenue) Tarun Shridhar to accompany him to the governing council meet. In line with the All-India Congress Committee (AICC), the Congress-led state government had even prepared an agenda to oppose amendments in the land bill introduced earlier by former prime minister Manmohan Singh.
However, on Tuesday, the Congress high command directed all its chief ministers to skip the meet to lodge protest against the amendments.
Earlier, the chief ministers of the Congress-ruled states were reported to have supported the BJP government's amendments on the consent clause, scrapping of social impact assessment and provisions related to return of unutilised land, but conforming with the party, later opposed the changes.
In Himachal Pradesh, the CM's son and state Youth Congress chief Vikramaditya Singh had spearheaded the campaign opposing Modi government's move to introduce amendments in the bill.
The state government, in third week of March, had enhanced the compensation rates for land acquisition as per the bill introduced by the previous Manmohan Singh government.
A revenue department official said: "The price for acquiring urban land will go up four times while in case of rural land, the rates will be twice the present rate after the cabinet nod."