Land acquisition ordinance: Opposition tears into Narendra Modi govt

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New Delhi | Updated: February 25, 2015 10:40:27 AM

A united Opposition tore into an ordinance promulgated by PM Narendra Modi govt to amend land acquisition rules...

Budget sessionDefending the ordinance route, Finance Minister and Leader of the House Arun Jaitley said 639 ordinances had been promulgated since Independence, of which 80 per cent were under Congress rule.

Facing flak from a united Opposition in Rajya Sabha, Narendra Modi government today expressed its intent to hold discussion with all parties to find a way out on the new land bill to replace the contentious ordinance on the issue.

As members from Congress, Left, Trinamool Congress, SP, BSP and JD-U targetted the government over provisions of the land ordinance calling it “anti-farmer” and aimed at “benefitting corporates”, Leader of the House Arun Jaitley assured them that he would convey the suggestion to the concerned minister to “hold discussions with parties” on the issue.

The House resumed its normal business at noon after the Finance Minister’s assurance following a heated discussion which went on for an hour.

Jaitley’s remarks came in response to the comments of Samajwadi Party leader Ramgopal Yadav, who said the government should talk to all parties and find a way out so that farmers’ interests are protected while development activities are carried out.

Yadav said that while it is true that at times acquiring land becomes difficult but a way should have been found out through discussions. “You should have taken the Opposition into confidence,” he said.

“I do not want a deadlock in Parliament. You talk to all parties and find a way out,” he said. K C Tyagi from JD-U also supported Yadav’s demand for a discussion on the issue at an all-party meet.

Jaitley later said that Yadav has made some suggestions in the right spirit. “Responding in the same spirit, I will convey his suggestions to the minister concerned to have discussion with parties.”

Deputy Leader of Congress Anand Sharma said that since Government has acknowledged the need to consult all parties, “he (Jaitley) should go a step further” and say that “till consultations are completed, the ordinance will remain suspended”. To this, Jaitley was seen waving his hand indicating a negative response.

Soon after obituary references and listed papers laid on the table in Rajya Sabha, Anand Sharma (Cong) said Congress and three other parties have given a notice under rule 267 for suspension of the business as the government has bypassed Parliament to amend a law that was passed in 2013 through consensus of all parties including BJP.

Responding to this, Jaitley said 639 ordinances had been promulgated since Independence, of which 80 per cent under Congress rule.

Jaitley said as many as 70 ordinances were promulgated under first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and 18 the under United Front and listed the ordinances promulgated multiple times during the previous UPA regime.

“No law can be passed by by-passing Parliament,” he said adding a bill to convert the ordinance into an act was in the Lok Sabha and would be brought to this House after it is passed by the Lower House.

“So the new logic that is being constructed that Parliament is being bypassed is not justified,” he said.

Later, Jaitley said the government has, through the ordinance, provisioned for four times compensation to farmers for land acquisition even in the 13 sectors which were kept out of the earlier land law passed during the UPA rule.

Defending the ordinance provisions of exempting social impact surveys for acquisition for five purposes including rural infrastructure, housing for the poor and industrial corridor, Jaitley they will benefit the rural areas and asked the leaders opposing the Ordinance to read the law again.

However, members were unrelenting in their criticism of the Ordinance and Jaitley’s plea to them to raise objections when the bill was brought in the House fell on deaf ears.

Former Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh said that Jaitley has “misled” the House by saying compensation has been increased four times for farmers whose lands were acquired under 13 laws.

He said the government has done no favour by doing so as the land law passed in 2013 itself had a separate schedule in which it was clearly written that within one year, changes in compensation will be brought under those 13 laws.

Sharma also countered Jaitley’s arguments on ordinances saying that ordinances under Nehru were spread over his 17 years in power and under extra-ordinary circumstances as the country had then just been partitioned.

The ordinances under UPA had to be re-promulgated multiple time as the opposition had not allowed the House to function, he said.

Sharma, a former Commerce Minister, also noted that nobody in the House was against the industry.

Derek ‘O’ Brien of Trinamool Congress also accused Jaitley of giving “selective information” alleging the government has brought more ordinances than bills during its nine-month tenure.

Recalling that his party Trinamool Congress had opposed the land law passed by the UPA in 2013, he said that after this Ordinance “they are looking like angels”.

Sharad Yadav (JDU) said through the ordinance, the government was “bulldozing and trampling” on Parliamentary scrutiny because they have absolute majority.

D Raja (CPI) said the ordinance was intended “to help the corporate and big business Houses.”

Mayawati (BSP) said the ordinance was not in the interest of the farmers and favoured only few industralists and corporate houses.

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