After land Ordinance, Cong to oppose new home bill

Rajat Kain

rahul_carAfter targeting Narendra Modi government over the Ordinance on land acquisition bill, rising farmer’s suicide and deepening agrarian crisis, the principal opposition party has gathered another reason to take on the BJP-led central government.

On Saturday, the Congress party raised its pitch in opposing the Real Estate bill with the party Vice-President Rahul Gandhi meeting a large group of aggrieved home buyers. The party has tagged this amended version of the Real Estate Bill as “pro-builder”.

The amended bill was tabled before Rajya Sabha on Wednesday but was deferred as the opposition parties demanded the bill be sent back to the Parliamentary Standing Committee for immediate discussion on certain amended clauses which are against the interest of home buyers. However, the Union government is yet to refer the bill to Standing Committee. The bill was originally drafted by the Congress-led UPA government but now the BJP has made some major amendments after the cabinet approval.

Rahul Gandhi and other leaders of the Congress party held a meeting with a group of home buyers from NCR, Kolkata, Bengaluru and other cities. The open session held at AICC headquarters in Delhi witnessed interaction between Gandhi and the delegation of aggrieved home buyers.

Speaking to the press after meeting the home buyers, Rahul Gandhi said, “In our real estate Bill, there was transparency. They (NDA govt) have made it from pro flat buyers to pro builders. People who are paying for flats they aren’t given possession. Buyers are promised a certain super area or carpet area, but do not get the promised area.”

“I have promised that, the way I stand with farmers, I strongly stand with home buyers and middle class,” the Congress leader added.

Taking direct aim at the Modi government, he said “Not just the farmers but also the middle class that is suffering.”

Congress party has been opposing the amended bill, calling the changes brought forth in it would “hit the unsuspecting middle class by stealing their dream of a house”.

Alleging that the bill in present form after an amendment by the Union government stands to benefit only real estate ‘giants’, the opposition parties said “the new Bill removes the provision of the 2013 Bill that provided the Appellate Tribunal the power to punish the senior officers of real estate companies in case of a delay and change of original design”.

Further the amended bill has drawn flak for changing the original provision where 70% of the amount collected from buyers for a project must be maintained in a separate bank account and must only be used for construction of that project. After amendment, the builders are required to keep only 50% of the amount.

Congress party has also raised questions on doing away with the provision of checking the background of real estate firms before registering for a new project.

After forcing the BJP-led NDA government to hold up the tabling of new land acquisition ordinance in the upper house, the opposition now seems to be opening a front against amended real estate bill.

Another tussle between the government and opposition is expected as Parliament resumes its sitting next week.