Amid growing protests by opposition parties and tribal bodies, the Jharkhand government has decided to abandon the ordinance route and take its proposal to amend two proposed tenancy laws — the Chotanagpur Tenancy (CNT) Act and the Santhal Pargana Tenancy (SPT) Act — to the assembly for a debate.
The government had earlier sent a draft ordinance in this regard to President Pranab Mukherjee for promulgation, skipping the customary practice of taking it to the assembly for a debate among its 81 members. Almost four months have passed, but the President is yet to take a call on the controversial issue that threatens to polarise tribals — accounting for 26% of the state’s population — against the ruling BJP government. Jharkhand got its first non-tribal chief minister in party leader Raghubar Das in 2014.
In an exclusive interview with HT, Das said the assembly was the “biggest panchayat” for elected representatives.
“We have decided to give up the draft ordinance and, instead, take the proper course of passing a law by introducing a bill for debate in the assembly,” he added.
Claiming that the government wants to bring development to rural Jharkhand through this move, the chief minister said the people opposing the “minor changes” made to the two laws would be at a loss when the legislation gets the green signal.
The CNT and SPT acts protect a majority of the state’s tribals and indigenous people — including members of the schedule caste and other backward class (OBC) — from losing their land. The two tenancy laws broadly emphasise that land owned by members of these communities cannot be sold to “outsiders”.
Opposition leaders, however, are seeing this as a victory of sorts. “We are one step away from compelling the government to abandon its amendment proposals,” said Jharkhand Mukti Morcha legislator and spokesperson Kunal Sarangi.