Left parties on Friday contested the government’s claim that there was a consensus on the Land Acquisition Bill, saying they are “not in agreement” with some of the basic provisions of the proposed legislation.
At the end of a meeting in New Delhi on Friday evening, the four Left parties -- CPI(M), CPI, RSP and Forward Bloc -- said the proposed law has left out 13 laws, including Indian Railways Act and National Highways Act, from the purview of the bill under which bulk of land acquisition takes place.
“It is wrong on the part of the government to claim that there is a consensus on the Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation & Re-settlement Bill.
“The Left parties are opposed to the definition of public purpose which includes also acquisition of land for private companies; there is no need for consent of those affected if land is acquired for government purposes; all the people affected like tenants, agricultural workers are not entitled to compensation; some of the provisions of the Bill are against the interests of adivasis,” the Left leaders said in a joint statement.
Since the Bill presented now has been “totally changed” from the one which was considered by the Standing Committee, CPI leader A.B. Bardhan told reporters that the Left parties would demand that it be referred back to the Standing Committee or be taken up by a Joint Select Committee.
Condemning the attacks on Left workers in West Bengal, the statement said there were nation-wide protests after the custodial death of SFI leader Sudipta Gupta in Kolkata.
In the course of such a protest in Delhi, there was an “unfortunate” incident, involving West Bengal Finance Minister Amit Mitra, outside the Planning Commission’s office, it said.
“Using this as a pretext, systematic and widespread attacks have been unleashed by the Trinamool Congress on the offices of the Left parties and their cadres and activists.
More than a thousand offices have been damaged or destroyed. A situation is sought to be created where the functioning of the opposition parties is suppressed.
“Serious human rights violations are taking place. A 22-year-old student was arrested in Siliguri and kept in a hospital chained to his bed. The Presidency University was attacked by TMC goons,” the statement said.
The Left parties demanded that the TMC leadership put a stop to all these attacks.
“The state government should act to maintain peace. The Left parties appeal to all democratic sections to protest against these attacks and demand that the rule of law be enforced in West Bengal,” Mr. Bardhan said.
In West Bengal, he said over 1,000 offices of Left parties and hundreds of their activists have been attacked and there was “continued intimidation” of Left workers by the TMC especially in rural areas.
“This way, the democratic functioning of the Left and the Congress, to an extent, is being stalled. The entire political spectrum should oppose such attacks,” Mr. Bardhan said, adding that attacks were also going on in various parts of the country, like in Bastar against the tribals.
On the Land Bill, he said “an impression has been created as there is a broad agreement among all parties on the Land Acquisition Bill. If the Congress and BJP have come to such an agreement, it is for them to explain. But the Left parties have major issues of differences.”
Besides Mr. Bardhan, those who attended the meeting were Prakash Karat, Sitaram Yechury, S Ramachandran Pillai (CPI(M)), S Sudhakar Reddy, A B Bardhan, D Raja (CPI) Debabrata Biswas, G Devarajan (Forward Bloc) and Abani Roy (RSP).
Elaborating on the issues on which the Left parties differ; Mr. Bardhan said these included the issue of ‘public purpose’ and its definition and on questions of resettlement and rehabilitation of the displaced.
He said there were 13 ways in which land could be acquired under as many laws and “all of them have been excluded from the purview of this Bill. Therefore, an overwhelming majority of land acquisition cases will not fall under this bill.”
“We are opposed to this new Bill in principle and will demand that it should be referred again to the Standing Committee or a Select Committee,” Mr. Bardhan said.