Opposition to amendments in the Land Acquisition Act that were brought through an ordinance by the Modi government recently is growing. Political parties, farmers’ organisations affiliated to political parties as well as civil society movements across the country have expressed their reservation to it.
On Wednesday, the Ajit Singh-led Rashtriya Lok Dal staged protests against the ordinance: across Uttar Pradesh, party activists raised slogans against the BJP-led NDA government, at district collectorates before handing over a memorandum to the DMs on the subject for the President of India, pointing out that the amendments favoured corporates than farmers.
Senior RLD functionary Trilok Tyagi said the party planned to follow it up with a seminar even as it contemplates holding a public meeting at Bhatta Parsaul, the village in western UP where farmers’ protests against land acquisition in 2011 had seen Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi visiting it to express his solidarity. This later led to the enactment of the UPA’s Land Acquisition Act that is now being sought to be diluted by the Modi government. Indeed, on January 14, former Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh too visited Bhatta Parsaul to express his opposition to the changes in the Bill that he had piloted.
The Congress has since decided to mobilise opposition to the proposed changes ahead of the budget session of Parliament. Central office-bearers have been told to ensure that the issue is taken to the grass-roots level by engaging State units and activating the District Congress Committees for the campaign that must end by February 15. Meanwhile, Janata Dal (United) general secretary KC Tyagi said his party had been in talks with the Congress and intended to raise the issue vigorously jointly with other parties in the upcoming budget session of Parliament.
On Sunday, leaders of various farmers’ organisations and political parties in Karnataka opposed the Centre’s move to take the ordinance route to amend the Land Acquisition Act. In a symbolic opposition to the UPA-led government’s plan, they burned a copy of the ordinance. Leaders from the Raitha Sangha, the Congress, the Left Parties, Sarvodaya Karnataka and litterateurs described the government’s move as anti-farmer. All this comes on the back of political parties ranging from the Trinamool Congress to the Left Parties expressing their opposition to the ordinance. Indeed, if the Opposition blocks the Bill to replace the ordinance in the Rajya Sabha, where it has a majority, the government will have no option but to resort to a joint sitting of Parliament.
Adding to the Centre’s embarrassment are the protests in BJP-ruled States and by associations owing allegiance to the Sangh Parivar.
Parties and farmers’ organisations express reservations