BJP’s allies not on the same ground over Land Bill

RSTV Bureau

Land_Ordinance3Narendra Modi government may be in for some for more disquiet over its new Land Bill. Opposed by the opposition, especially by the Congress party, the ruling BJP-led NDA now faces fault lines within its own fold. Three of BJP’s allies – Shiv Sena, Akali Dal and Maharashtra based Swabhimani Paksha have red flagged number of provisions in the proposed legislation.

The new bill, which proposes amendments to the Land Acquisition Act of 2013 brought in by the Congress-led UPA, is under examination of a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC). The JPC is about to conclude its consultation process over the bill before it begins a clause-by-clause consideration next week.

And it is not just the opposition parties and the farmers’ group that has objected to certain provisions but the allies of the ruling BJP too has flagged differences.

While Shiv Sena has been firm on its view of incorporating a clause providing for 70 per cent consent of farmers in the event of land acquisition, the Akali Dal and Swabhiman Paksha have written to the JPC that “not an inch” of land should be acquired without the consent of farmers.

Representing Akali Dal before the JPC, its MPs Naresh Gurjal, Balwinder Singh Bhunder, Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, Prem Singh Chandumajra and Sher Singh Ghubaiya submitted their views in a written statement.

“Not even an inch of it should be acquired by the government without the consent of the farmers/land owners,” the group of Akali representatives submitted in their note.

Insisting that land should only be acquired for public sector projects and the “government should not get into acquisition for private entities”, the Akali MPs added that the farmers should not be denied the right to approach court in case they have any grievances.

Another NDA ally, Swabhimani Paksha led by Lok Sabha MP Raju Shetty too has rooted for the consent clause assuring “consent of 70 per cent of farmers and five-time compensation” for the acquisition of land for the projects undertaken with public private partnership (PPP) for development infrastructure.

“Never acquire the fertile land except for military or high priority projects in the interest of the national interest,” the party said.

The party also said that it will support the legislation “only if the above amendments are included”.

Shiv Sena is the largest ally of the BJP-led NDA with 18 MPs in Lok Sabha and three in Rajya Sabha, followed by the Akali Dal which has 4 members in the lower house and 3 in the upper, while Raju Shetty is the lone MP in Lok Sabha from Swabhiman Paksha party.

Earlier, appearing before the JPC, RSS affiliates including Swadeshi Jagaran Manch, Bhartiya Kisan Sangh, Bhartiya Mazdoor Sangh and Akhil Bhartiya Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram also opposed the bill and demanded restoration of the consent clause and social impact assessment.

Ever since the Budget session of Parliament, Narendra Modi government has been facing an aggressive opposition over the issue of Ordinance on the Land Acquisition Bill. On one occasion, Congress president Sonia Gandhi had even led a march of opposition parties to Rashtrapati Bhawan opposing the Ordinance.

And now with its allies not on the same page, challenges before the BJP-led Central government over the Land Bill has only grown further.

(With inputs from the PTI)