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Land law: Opposition staring down, Modi Govt may blink

Emotive issue as it concerns farmers, needs to be addressed, says Venkaiah.

By: Indo-Asian News Service Written by Pradeep Kaushal , Maneesh Chhibber | New Delhi |
Updated: February 23, 2015 7:16:10 am
Naidu reached out to the Congress party seeking its cooperation for the smooth functioning of parliament. Naidu reached out to the Congress party seeking its cooperation for the smooth functioning of parliament.

Under pressure to accommodate concerns of farmers, the government is likely to allow amendments to some controversial clauses in the land acquisition ordinance.

Speaking to The Indian Express on the eve of the budget session of Parliament which gets underway Monday, two government functionaries, including a senior minister involved in deliberations within the government over the controversial clauses in the ordinance to amend the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in the Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013, said it has been “decided in principle” that some changes can be made to the ordinance to get the support of the Opposition in getting key legislations, including those aimed at getting ordinances issued by the government after the winter session, passed in Parliament.

“We will convey this (decision to accept some amendments in the ordinance) to the Opposition once we begin formal consultations with them to get various legislations passed. Right now, the focus is the budget. However, if the Opposition agrees, we will either accept amendments moved by them or bring official amendments on our own,” a source said.

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The source also suggested that there was a divide within the government — certain ministers were said to be of the view that any move to tinker with the ordinance would send a negative message to the industry — on whether the government should accept demands to revert to the earlier clauses concerning the social impact assessment and the consent clause as also changes to Section 24 of the Act, which narrowed down the scope of the retrospective clause by reducing the number of beneficiaries.

The source said the government’s shift in stance was also necessitated after the RSS leadership sent a clear message to senior government functionaries that the land acquisition ordinance was “not acceptable” in its current form.

The RSS is also learnt to have conveyed to the government its assessment that anti-BJP parties will gain politically in case the government remains adamant about not making any changes to the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in the Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013 to make it more farmer-friendly.

The RSS is learnt to have pointed to the government that one reason why the party did so badly in the recent Delhi assembly elections, especially in outer Delhi areas where a large number of farmers reside, was the anger against changes to the land law.

The government has been reaching out to the Opposition in the last few days to find ways to end the legislative logjam in Parliament.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu, speaking to mediapersons after an all-party meeting to discuss the budget session, said: “The government is always willing to sit with Opposition to resolve differences on any issue… A spirit of mutual cooperation is required to ensure a productive budget session.”

On the land acquisition ordinance, Naidu said the issue needs to be addressed “sincerely” without politicisation. “We are aware that land acquisition is an emotive issue as it concerns farmers. We need to address this issue sincerely without undue politicisation,” he said.

Earlier in the day, he also met Congress president Sonia Gandhi in a bid to seek her party’s cooperation for conversion of various ordinances into Acts.

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