Land Ordinance re-issued, President gives nod

Rajat Kain

land-billPresident Pranab Mukherjee has signed the re-issued Ordinance on Land Acquisition. The Ordinance was set to lapse on the midnight of 4th April. PM Narendra Modi led Union government had recommended the prorogation of Rajya Sabha and notified the re-issue of Ordinance. The Ordinance could not have been reissued in the normal course as the house would have been still in session amid recess. Thus, the recommendation to prorogue the upper house became essential.

The re-issued ordinance will be valid for six more weeks or till the time government is able to get it cleared in both the houses of the Parliament.

The Ordinance on the Land acquisition was brought by the BJP-led NDA govt in December 2014. It has since been opposed by the collective opposition parties along with various farmer bodies and civil society. Though the Ordinance was passed in the Lok Sabha where government enjoys majority on its own, it was unable to even table the Ordinance in Rajya Sabha.

In the first leg of Budget session opposition members opposed the government both inside and outside the Parliament. In a series of protest against the ordinance, Congress Chief Sonia Gandhi led a march of opposition parties from the Parliament to Rashtrapati Bhavan. The Opposition had then submitted a memorandum to President Pranab Mukherjee requesting him not to sign the Ordinance in case the govt sought to re-issue it.

Though the Union government claims they are making efforts to take opposition on board over the issue of Land Acquisition Ordinance, the other side seems to be unrelenting.

Congress has already sharpened its attack on the Ordinance terming it ‘anti-farmer’. It also attacked the government, accusing the BJP of running the country through ordinance.

“The current Land Bill is anti-farmer. We will strongly protest it and are firm on it. At present Congress is not in power but the party will struggle for them (farmers) and will not compromise on the issue,” Congress chief Sonia Gandhi has been asserting while meeting the rain-affected farmers.

The Congress along with host of opposition parties has been opposing ordinance alleging that it has watered down various pro-farmers provisions. Those ‘pro-farmers’ provisions included consent needed from 70% (in some cases 80%) farmers/owners of the land to be acquired, Social Impact Assessment of the residents from whom land is acquired, returning land after 5 years of non-usage and retrospective clause, among others.

The ordinance on Land Acquisition has become a bone of contention for the ruling party pushing them on a defensive and fighting the tag of being ‘anti-farmer’.

The BJP is also facing questions on the count of bringing an Ordinance for the bill they had earlier supported on the floor of the house.