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Parties Join Debate Over Controversial Dharani Portal, Make it a Key Electoral Issue


Published on: June 9, 2023 | Updated on: June 9, 2023

Congress chief A. Revanth Reddy even on Friday reiterated that the party would scrap the portal if voted to power. (File photo: DC)

Hyderabad: The Telangana Congress got a shot in the arm with all political parties including Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao joining the debate over the highly controversial Dharani portal, an integrated land records management system being used for registration of agricultural land, gradually making it a major electoral issue.

Accusing the Chief Minister’s family members of amassing land worth thousands of crores of rupees through benamis by using the facility, Congress chief A. Revanth Reddy even on Friday reiterated that the party would scrap the portal if voted to power.

The Chief Minister, since earlier this week, has been cautioning farmers that they would lose numerous benefits including their land ownership rights and financial assistance under the BRS government’s flagship financial programme Rythu Bandhu if the Dharani portal was scrapped. "We will go back to the broker raj," he pointed out at a public meeting in Mancherial on Friday.

Significantly, All India Majlis Ittehadul Muslimeen chief Asaduddin Owaisi made a scathing attack against the Chief Minister’s brainchild. "Yeh Dharani bahut dard ho gaya bhai (Dharani is very painful)," said Owaisi, who made several efforts to bring the lacunae in the new method to the notice of the government ever since it was introduced in October 2020.

Speaking at a public meeting in the city on Thursday night, Owaisi, in an apparent dig at the ruling party leaders, said that the Dharani portal might have been benefiting them but poor farmers were put to great difficulties.

Dharani replaced the computer-aided administration of registration department registration. Though the plan was to bring the registration of both agricultural and non-agricultural properties into Dharani portal, the government restricted it to the former and made tahsildars the registering authorities. The government launched a massive drive of purification of land records two years before introducing the system.

"The purification drive has in it the roots for the land mafia unleashed by KCR family which also benefited feudal lords to regain ownership that they had lost a long time ago," alleged Congress Legislature Party leader Mallu Bhatti Vikramarka, who has been holding meetings with farmers complaining against Dharani all through his padayatra.

The first lacunae with the system, Congress leaders point out, is the removal of the column for tenant farmer, depriving lakhs of farmers who were cultivating land on lease for decades of any recognition.

Explaining the motive in detail, Revanth Reddy said feudal families had migrated to cities, leaving their properties when Naxal movement was at its peak, and poor farmers had started cultivating the land. "With Dharani, KCR restored ownership of these feudal families," he said. He also ridiculed the Chief Minister’s warning that Rythu Bandhu would be affected if the portal was scrapped, stating that the scheme was under implementation much before Dharani was launched.

In several cases, particularly in Ranga Reddy, Medchal-Malkajgiri and Sangareddy districts, where land has become very expensive, the ownership was changed allegedly after taking huge bribes. "The original owners might have sold the property to others and even migrated abroad but names of their kin were included," Revanth Reddy pointed out.

Even the ruling party legislators were apprehensive about Chief Minister’s tall claims of removing corruption with Dharani proving counter-productive because situation remained the same. "Instead of bribing one department officials, people are bribing another department’s officials. Bribing did not vanish," a BRS legislator said. People will immediately relate CM’s remarks with ground situation and do not appreciate our stand, he added.