The Congress party members protested against the re-promulgation of the Land Ordinance at the meeting of the Joint Committee of Parliament looking at the contentious provisions of the Land Acquisition Bill today. Though left parties earlier threatened to pull out of the panel — with other opposition parties being in favour of putting up their views in the deliberations of the committee — the chances of any major logjam that could have thwarted deliberations has waned.
This, however, doesn’t ensure that the two sides will now sit together and discuss measures that could lead to solutions which would ultimately allow passage of the Bill in Parliament. The NDA on its part has already started giving signals that it was ready to make changes in the Bill suggested by the opposition parties, a provision for returning the unused farm land if not used within five years is one such olive branch.
Whether these amendments will help the 30-member panel reaches to a framework acceptable to all the parties or not is a tricky question as the Bill has been turned into a turf-war between those protecting the farmers’ interest (opposition parties led by Congress) and pro-industry (NDA).
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But the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has a chance here to rope in parties like TMC, BJD, NCP and others sitting on the fences to support a balancing act which could then be projected as a win-win formula to muster a majority in the Rajya Sabha. So more than what the joint committee suggests in its report, it is the way BJP leads the proceedings, will decide the fate of the Land Bill.
The committee will now meet every Monday and Tuesday before the beginning of the Monsoon Session which is expected to begin from July 20, and will present its report on the first day of the session.
While it has been decided to seek the views of state governments through the chief secretaries, concerned central ministries and related organizations have also been called for deposition beginning tomorrow, members are keeping their fingers crossed on the ultimate outcome of these deliberations.
In the event of the panel failing to find a way out, the NDA will have to settle with allowing the states to have their own liberal Land Acquisition Acts like the one proposed by Rajasthan which doesn’t have a social impact assessment clause.