Updated: January 15, 2015 3:46:08 pm
The Congress on Wednesday returned to Bhatta-Parsaul, the twin villages in western Uttar Pradesh which grabbed headlines after Rahul Gandhi lent his support to a farmers’ agitation in 2011, to launch its campaign against “dilution” of the land acquisition Act enacted by the UPA government.
Joining the protest against the Centre’s move to bring an Ordinance to amend the Act, former rural development minister Jairam Ramesh addressed a farmers’ meeting at one of the villages, a day after the Congress Working Committee (CWC) gave its approval to a decision to hold a nationwide stir against the BJP government’s decision. “The Congress-led UPA government had given the farmers rights to their land, but the BJP regime has been reversing the measures. Our law had said the acquired land would be given back to their owners if it remains unused for five years. But the BJP government has done away with it… They believe in ‘ghar wapsi’ not ‘zameen wapsi’,” he said.
The farmers have been opposing the Ordinance as it had done away with the need for consent of 80 per cent of landholders as well as social impact assessment in cases under certain categories, leaders of the Congress at the panchayat said.
“We had taken away rights from district collectors and given them to you. The BJP government has again snatched them from you and given them to collectors,” Ramesh told farmers.
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Congress president Sonia Gandhi had attacked the government arguing it has effectively destroyed the legislation and brought back the law passed by the British in 1894 through the back door. The UPA-II government enacted the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013, years after Rahul had joined the farmers’ agitation at Bhatta-Parsaul.
Meanwhile, the Kisan Sangharsh Samiti, led by Manver Bhati, also held protests against the Ordinance across Noida and Greater Noida, with the police resorting to lathicharge.
At the party briefing, Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi called the Ordinance as “land snatching, land grabbing Ordinance” and alleged “it provides for corporates and takes away the heart and soul of the farmer-friendly law”.
Singhvi also hit out at the government claiming there has been a major “clampdown” on expenditure in agriculture, education and defence sectors to “mechanically make up” for rising fiscal deficit. Besides, he said there has been a delay in disbursement of funds for payment of wages under the MNREGA scheme.
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