In a major embarrassment to the BJP, a representative of its largest coalition partner — the Shiv Sena — on Tuesday attended a meeting of opposition parties which are against changes in the land acquisition Act. The meeting was aimed at working out a common strategy to block the amended Bill. The Bill is being examined by the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC), which is expected to finalise its report in the next one week.
Shiv Sena’s Anandrao Adsul attended the meeting held at NCP chief Sharad Pawar’s residence on Tuesday morning. Adsul told The Indian Express that his party was opposed to dilution of the consent clause — the Bill tabled by the government exempts a special category of projects from the consent requirement — and wants the safeguard back in the Bill.
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Adsul also confirmed that he had submitted a list of proposed amendments to the proposed Bill. Seeking to play down the political significance of Sena’s move, he said his party had taken a stand against certain changes at the initial stage itself, when the Bill was tabled.
“We have taken a stand… It is not a question of going with the opposition,” he said.
The panel is expected to meet on Thursday to begin clause-by-clause consideration of the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (Second Amendment) Bill, 2015. The Congress, too, submitted a list of nine amendments it seeks in the Bill. The party said it was talking to other parties to work out a common position to put pressure on the government.
Besides Adsul, the meeting at Pawar’s residence was attended by Trinamool Congress’s Kalyan Banerjee, CPM’s Mohammad Salim, YSR Congress’s Vara Prasadarao Velagapalli and Congress members Rajeev Satav, K V Thomas, P L Punia and Digvijaya Singh.
According to sources, while the Trinamool Congress and the CPM wanted the amended Bill to be junked completely, others like the NCP, the YSR Congress and the Shiv Sena only sought changes. Although the JD(U) did not attend the meeting, Congress sources said it also supports total withdrawal of the Bill.
The Congress, sources said, was against 11 out of the 15 “substantive amendments”. While three other amendments Congress is willing to live with are “procedural” in nature, it has no problem with one amendment providing for “compulsory employment” to one member of the affected farm labourer.
But the party wanted the clause expanding the list of projects exempted from consent and Social Impact Assessment omitted. It stood firm on the demand to restore the retrospective clause to the way it was in the 2013 UPA Act.
The Congress also wanted the clause diluting the Act on prosecution of defaulting civil servants restored and the clause substituting “private entity” with “private company” in the Bill omitted. The Congress batted for uniform compensation of four times the market value of land in both rural and urban areas.