Land ordinance may have to be re-promulgated: Birender Singh

Says Centre is thinking of talks with the Opposition

Though Union Parliamentary Affairs Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu said here on Wednesday that no decision had been taken on re-promulgating the land acquisition ordinance, Union Rural Development Minister Birender Singh, who is piloting the Bill, said in Chandigarh that the ordinance might have to be reissued.

“We are thinking of making one more attempt to talk to other political parties so that we may have a consensus ... which is in the country’s interests and farmers’ interests,” he told presspersons.

The Land Bill, which will replace the Ordinance, was approved in the first half of the Budget Session in the Lok Sabha, but on realising that it could not be got through the Rajya Sabha, the government did not bring it to the Upper House.

The government now has the following options: re-promulgate the Ordinance before April 5 by proroguing Parliament or allow it to lapse. Either way, it will have to bring the Bill back to Parliament when it meets next on April 20 and try its luck again with or without changes.

If it fails to get the Bill through again, then it can re-promulgate it again after May 8.

Alternatively, if it brings it to the Rajya Sabha and the Bill is rejected there, it could consider calling for a joint sitting of the two Houses to pass it.

The Modi government, while keen on passing its own version of the Bill with only minor changes (for instance, it is in no mood to make changes on consent, a major point of departure from the 2013 Act), does not want to do so till it can create public opinion in favour of the legislation. In that, the Opposition has been ahead of it.

On Wednesday, Mr. Naidu recalled that Nitin Gadkari, as Union Rural Development Minister, had convened a meeting of Chief Ministers and Revenue Ministers last June when many of the States expressed their reservations about the 2013 Act, saying it was next to impossible to acquire land under that Act and wanted changes.

All these come in the wake of a meeting of BJP and RSS leaders on Monday, at which the latter asked the government to end the negative perception over the Bill before bringing it to Parliament.

The government wants to create public opinion in favour of the Bill and pass it with minor changes

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