AT LEAST four members — three from the Congress and one from NCP — boycotted a Parliamentary panel’s meeting on the land bill on Thursday and demanded that the panel be wound up as it has “no relevance”. There was a demand to call either the Cabinet or the agriculture secretary before the panel to clarify the government’s stand on the bill in the light of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s statement in a Mann Ki Baat programme in August 2015 that the land ordinance would be allowed to lapse, restoring the situation that had prevailed before the NDA came to power in 2014.
Before the meeting could begin, Congress’s K V Thomas is learnt to have told the panel chief, BJP MP Ganesh Singh, that it has “no relevance” since Modi had pronounced that all amendments will be withdrawn.
Supporting his contention, Sharad Pawar (NCP) said there was no point in holding the meetings of the panel now. Congress’s Digivijaya Singh and P L Punia wondered what was the purpose of the panel in still looking into provisions of the bill. BJD’s B Mahtab said the panel should get a clarification on the issue, while Velgagapalli Vara Prasadrao (TDP) added that time and money should not be wasted on such meetings if there is no purpose, sources said.
But Mahatab and Rao attended the meeting. Singh said he will seek the PMO’s view on the subject. When members raised the issue, Singh read out the part concerned of Modi’s Mann Ki Baat address, thereby bringing it on record of the proceedings.
Mahtab said that even if the government decided that it does not want to proceed with the amendments, it will have to withdraw the 2015 bill in Parliament. “The committee on its own cannot decide to wind up discussion on the bill since it (the bill) stands referred to the committee,” Mahtab is learnt to have said. Pawar said that the chairman should clarify the government’s on its stand on the issue. Mahtab said that any such exercise will be only a personal discussion between the committee chairman and the PMO. He demanded that the panel should call the rural development secretary.