Top ministers meet; discuss Maoist attack, land bill

RSTV Bureau

File Photo ( PTI )

Top Ministers of the NDA government met in the absence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday and discussed major issues like the Maoist attack in Chhattisgarh and the strategy for the second part of the budget session of Parliament and the controversial Land Bill.

The meeting, chaired by Home Minister Rajnath Singh, was attended among others by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari and Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, at Singh’s official residence, official sources said.

The top Ministers also decided to provide all necessary assistance to the Chhattisgarh government to deal with the situation arising out of the latest in the series of left extremist attacks on security forces.

The senior ministers discussed further steps to be taken to check the Maoist menace which continues to pose a big challenge for security agencies, the sources said.

Seven policemen were killed and 11 others were injured in on Saturday’s incident in the insurgency-hit Sukma district.

The challenges facing the land bill in Rajya Sabha and other issues likely to come up in the second part of the Budget session beginning April 20, also came up for discussion, they said.

The over 90-minute meeting was held in absence of the Prime Minister, who is on a three-nation official tour of France, Germany and Canada.

Faced with the challenges in Rajya Sabha where the ruling alliance does not have the majority, the government had to re-promulgate the land ordinance as opposition parties were dead against the bill terming it as ‘anti-farmers’.

It was passed in Lok Sabha in the first half of the budget session.

After the bill on Land Acquisition, which proposed to amend the Act of 2013, was passed by Lok Sabha, it got stuck due to opposition in Rajya Sabha where ruling NDA is woefully short of numbers.

The Land Acquisition Ordinance, which was promulgated in December last, was to lapse on April 5 as the bill could not be passed by Parliament.

The budget session of Rajya Sabha was cut short on March 28 as the House was prorogued to pave the way for re-promulgation of the Land Acquisition Ordinance.

Under the Constitution, at least one of the Houses has to be prorogued to enable the government to issue an Ordinance.

The Ordinance was reissued last Friday and carried the nine official amendments to the earlier Ordinance agreed to by the government in Lok Sabha.