Bengaluru: The BJP government of Karnataka has received a rude jolt from the farmers wing of the RSS, which has issued a call to burn the gazzette notification containing an amendment to the Land Reforms Act 1961, thereby enabling purchase of agriculture land by industries.
The protest is scheduled for July 26, a day after the Yediyurappa government is planning to celebrate one year in office.
Curiously, an independent survey conducted by former Karnataka Agriculture Prices Commission chairman Prakash Kammaradi has found that the amendment is attracting more opposition in BJP-dominant areas.
Speaking to Deccan Chronicle, Gangadhar Nelamangala, Karnataka general secretary of the Bharatiya Kisan Sangha, the RSS farmers wing, said support to the BJP government is based on the Hindutva platform, but not to any decision that helps real estate dealers and black money holders.
The ordinance making an amendment to the Land Reforms Act of 1961 was brought in soon after the nationwide coronavirus lockdown was lifted. Facilitated by the amendment, anyone can purchase agricultural land in Karnataka and use it for non-agriculture purposes.
Besides, the ceiling on land ownership, which used to be 54 acres per individual, was raised to 432 acres.
The government has defended the amendment, stating it would not only boost industrial activity in the state, but also bring in investment in agricultural development.
Gangadhar says this does not square with the fact that much of the land already acquired by government for industrial development lies undeveloped. He siad,
"The government has 12,000 acres of land acquired and developed by KIADB. Another 36,000 acres acquired by the Industries Department have not been developed. As per the Industries Department statistics, over 56% of the existing industrial areas are defunct. Without utilising the land already available, why is the government allowing indiscriminate purchase and conversion of agriculture land to industry?''
The farmers' wing of RSS says raising the ceiling of land ownership would only open the door for corruption politicians to invest in land. "The question is how can 54 acres per person be insufficient? Why do you need 432 acres? Instead of non-agriculturists and industrialists investing in agricultural lands, corrupt politicians, bureaucrats and real estates will invest their black money in land. The government is facilitating money launderers to convert their black money showing it as agriculture income,'' Gangadhar added.
Apart from the RSS, the amendment has received a thumbs down from farmers as well. In the survey done by Prakash Kammaradi, over 56% of farmers stated that the amendment was ‘not acceptable’.
The survey found that in no region except Kalyana-Karnataka (formerly called Hyderabad-Karnataka) did support for the amendment exceed 50 per cent. In fact, opposition to it was strongest in BJP strongholds like Mumbai-Karnataka (72.6%), Malnad and Coastal Karnataka (54.1%) and Central Karnataka (55.3%).
Further, castes that traditionally have supported the BJP, such as the Brahmins and Lingayats and also the Vokkaligas and Reddy communities, are also opposed to the amendment, 53.5% of Brahmins and Lingayats, 68.2% of Vokkaligas and Reddys, by the survey’s reckoning.