Land Bill clears Lok Sabha hurdle

March 11, 2015 02:54 am | Updated November 16, 2021 05:09 pm IST - New Delhi:

The controversial Land Acquisition (Amendment) Bill was approved by the Lok Sabha on Tuesday, but not before the Modi government reached out to unhappy NDA allies and unattached parties such as the BJD and the AIADMK to seek their support for this crucial legislation.

The Congress, the Trinamool Congress, the Samajwadi Party, the RJD and the BJD walked out of the House while NDA ally Shiv Sena abstained as the Bill was passed by voice vote.

In the official amendments it moved, the government accommodated some concerns of the Opposition and allies, such as dropping “social infrastructure” from the five categories of land use exempted from the consent clause.

However, other key points of contention — the Social Impact Assessment and the restoration of the consent clause — remained unresolved as the Bill moves to the Rajya Sabha, where the government is outnumbered — and the Opposition plans to force the Bill to a Select Committee.

Barring the Swabhiman Paksha and the Shiv Sena that held its counsel during the meeting, all the other allies agreed to back the government if it addressed their concerns.

Later, Sena sources told The Hindu , “The Bill is perceived as anti-farmer, and with Anna Hazare having already started his agitation against the Bill from Wardha in Maharashtra, we can’t afford to support it – we could be politically destroyed.”

However, other National Democratic Alliance partners that had earlier publicly opposed the Bill — the Shiromani Akali Dal and the Lok Janshakti Party — came on board, as did the smaller partners.

Meeting held with NDA allies ‘to build consensus’

The Telugu Desam Party was more concerned about Central funding for projects in Andhra Pradesh, including Polavaram.

“This was the first time in nine months that the government thought it necessary to consult us,” a Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) MP told The Hindu after the meeting, adding, “Much damage has been done in the process: the public perception is the Bill is anti-farmer.”

The SAD, for instance, wanted the Land Acquisition Bill to be amended to make it clear that where State projects were involved, State laws should prevail.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu, along with Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and Union Rural Development Minister Birender Singh, convened a meeting with NDA allies “to build consensus” on the official amendments brought by the Government.

These three Ministers also briefed BJP MPs — at a separate meeting of the party’s parliamentary wing — on the official amendments to blunt the opposition to the proposed changes in the 2013 Act.

This briefing and the amendments had a salutary effect on BJP MPs who participated in larger numbers on Tuesday in the Lok Sabha discussion than they did on Monday.

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