Rahul Gandhi today accused the NDA government of “killing” the Land Acquisition Act brought by the UPA and said Congress will fiercely resist within and outside Parliament the attempt of “suit-boot ki sarkar” to “grab” farmers’ land.
“This government is in a hurry to pass this bill… It will not happen so easily. If we are not able to stop it here (in Parliament), we will hit the streets against it outside,” the Congress Vice President said in Lok Sabha during a debate on the land bill.
He drew a parallel between a daylight robbery and the proposed law, saying an economist had told him that thieves wearing suits now strike during daylight.
Rahul’s repeated jibes at the Modi government invited running protests from the treasury benches.
Hitting out at the bill, he termed it as an attempt by the government to acquire land, whose price has been rising, for industrialist “friends” and crony capitalists.
“This government wants to give land to crony capitalists and its industrialist friends because it’s a ‘suit-boot ki sarkar’,” he said.
Rejecting the government’s stand that the new law was needed for faster development, Rahul quoted an RTI reply, saying it has shown that only 8 per cent of projects have been hampered due to non-availability of land.
He said there is no dearth of land for development purposes as 40 per cent of land in the SEZ was lying unutilised but the NDA government was hell-bent on taking the land of only the farmers.
Terming the government as anti-farmer and anti-poor, Rahul said it does not want to acquire land in Bundelkhand or in the deserts of Rajasthan but those near big cities like Noida, Gurgaon and Pune to make money as their prices have been rising.
“Gold lies beneath your feet. These people want to snatch it,” he said amid cheers from Congress benches.
He said, “It took the UPA government two years to bring the land acquisition law but the NDA government killed it within days of coming to power. The first blow with an axe was right at its (bill) throat when the government decided to remove the consent clause.
“When the body had fallen, then it dealt a second blow of the axe. You said there should be no social impact assessment.”
The Congress leader said the law enacted in 2013 had a provision that land, acquired from a farmer, will have to be returned to the farmer if no project comes up in five years.
“This was the third blow when you said that there is no need to return land to farmers even if the project does not take off or is delayed by 10, 20 or 50 years,” he said.
Taking a dig at BJP leaders, Rahul said its top leaders like L K Advani, Sushma Swaraj and Rajnath Singh, while sitting in opposition benches, had “even thumped the desks” when land bill was passed in 2013 during UPA’s tenure.
“They had supported the bill then, but I don’t know why they changed their stance today. It can either be that their mind changed, or they are scared lest they say something wrong,” the Congress leader said.
Earlier, while beginning his speech, Rahul took jibes at the treasury benches saying “I am thankful to BJP members for having come (to the House) in such large numbers to listen to my speech. I had thought I will be speaking to empty benches.”
He also said that many members from the treasury benches were “busy shopping or having lunch.”
Taking a dig at Rural Development Minister Birender Singh, who was in Congress before joining BJP, the Congress
Vice President said he used to agree with him on this issue.