New Delhi: With the Opposition and even some NDA allies voicing reservations on the Land Acquisition Bill, the government agreed Tuesday to refer it to a joint select committee of Parliament. This followed a spirited discussion, with Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi attacking the government for diluting provisions on consent, social impact assessment and time clause to return land for no use in five years.
The government agreed to refer the Bill to a 30-member committee comprising 20 Lok Sabha and 10 Rajya Sabha members. This came after NDA allies Shiv Sena and Akali Dal too joined the Opposition’s protests. The Shiv Sena and Akali Dal demanded the Bill be sent to a joint parliamentary committee. The government had promulgated ordinances twice on the Bill since December as it faced similar resistance earlier. The joint committee will have to submit its report on the first day of the Monsoon Session. The bill has already been passed by the Lower House.
Mr Gandhi, initiating the discussion, said the government first hit the axe on the consent clause, and when the soul of the law was dead, further strikes came against clauses of social impact assessment and mandatory reversal of land to farmers in the event of no use in five years. “We got the information from the ministry of finance on projects affected because of the land acquisition issue wherein it was stated that only eight per cent of them have been stuck,” said Mr Gandhi. He then asked “Why are you seeking to harm the farmers?”. He said that the Congress would fiercely resist within and outside Parliament the attempt of “suit-boot ki sarkar” to “grab” farmers’ land, He drew a parallel between a daylight robbery and the proposed law, saying an economist had told him that thieves wearing suits now strike during daylight.
Rural development minister Birender Singh, however, rejected the opposition charge that the Bill is against the interests of farmers. “The bill is in favour of farmers and we need to strengthen both the wheels, farmers and industry, to develop the country,” said Mr Singh. The AIADMK, Trinamul, BJD and the Left also vehemently opposed the government move to push through the Bill. They stated that the Bill had already been passed by the Lok Sabha earlier. There was pandemonium in the House after Mr Singh inadvertently mentioned the name of late Madhav Rao Scindia while hitting back at opposition for taking jibes at Prime Minister Narendra Modi for wearing expensive suits.
Replying to remarks by Congress leaders that Prime Minister Narendra Modi wore suit worth Rs 10 lakh, Mr Singh quipped. “What was wrong in wearing an expensive suit by the son of a farmer or a poor person? You can ask Madhav Rao Scindia.” Later, he apologised for mentioning the name of Madhav Rao....