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Now, Rahul vows to protect middle class from builder lobby

After his attempts at reaching out to tribals, Dalits and farmers, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi has now turned to the middle class — believed to be among the strongest votaries of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Mr. Gandhi met flat buyers from the National Capital Region at the Congress headquarters here on Saturday, signalling that the next standoff in Parliament between the Congress and the government would be on the Real Estate (Development and Regulation) Bill.

Nearly 200 home buyers and their representative bodies, which have grievances against builders, had a 45 minute meeting with Mr. Gandhi and his associates — former Urban Development Minister Ajay Maken and former Haryana PWD Minister Randeep Singh Surjewala — at 24 Akbar Road.

Congress sources said home buyers apprised party leaders of their problems that ranged from being short-changed by builders to delays in getting possession of flats.

“Mr. Gandhi told them that the former UPA government had introduced a real estate Bill that was loaded in favour of the home buyers and the NDA government is now trying to dilute it,” a source said.

‘Middle class cheated’

“I used to think only farmers, tribals and labourers are cheated on matters related to land. But I learnt something new today. Even the middle class is cheated and flat buyers are victimised,” Mr. Gandhi said after the meeting. “I have assured them that I am with them just as I am with farmers and the poor.”

The Congress vice-president, who has returned in an aggressive new avatar after a >51-day sabbatical, is showing a greater involvement in political affairs.

His attempt at championing the middle class cause is a significant shift. Recently in Parliament, he >demanded a law on Net neutrality from the government, targeting the youth. A few days later, on April 24, 2015, he >trekked to the Kedarnath shrine in Uttarakhand to witness the reopening of the shrine after the winter closure.

Mr. Gandhi said: “Builders promise super area and super-duper area. One buyer told me how he was promised a flat with a view. After some time, a new building came up and the view was gone. The government is trying to dilute our bill.”

He said while the UPA Bill intended to introduce transparency in real estate transactions, the NDA has made amendments to the Bill that take away the transparency. “From pro-buyer they have made our Bill pro-builder,” he said.

Former Urban Development Minister Ajay Maken said the NDA government’s amendments dilute the spirit of the UPA’s original Bill. “They have brought in 118 amendments. Broadly, there are dilutions on three or four counts that we have serious objections to. Our bill clearly defined carpet area as the net useable area minus the walls as defined under the National Building Code, but the NDA government’s bill does away with that. Then it allows for minor alterations from the sanctioned plan without defining what these alterations are,” he said.

Mr. Maken added that the new Bill grants the builders the right to delay projects unlike the UPA’s version.

The Congress had demanded on April 29, 2015 that the Bill be sent to a select committee. A senior Congress leader in the Rajya Sabha confirmed to The Hindu that the party would not allow the Bill to be passed in the current session that ends on May 13, 2015.

Rahul protecting Vadra’s ‘cronies,’ says BJP

The BJP on Saturday hit back at Mr. Gandhi’s remarks against the Real Estate (Development and Regulation) Bill, saying he was trying to stall a Bill that hurts the “builder mafia”.

“He is probably concerned about the cronies of his brother-in-law (Robert Vadra),” Union Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said.

Mr. Naqvi defended the amendments brought in by the governments as “an outcome of deliberations with stake-holders”.

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Printable version | Oct 28, 2020 12:30:26 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/rahul-gandhi-on-land-bill-ordinance/article7164515.ece

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