Following Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi’s repeated attacks on the Centre’s “anti-farmer” land acquisition policies, three cabinet ministers Tuesday said the Congress lacks the credentials to make such statements.
At a press meet at BJP headquarters, Union Ministers Nitin Gadkari, M Venkaiah Naidu and Birender Singh alleged that under Congress rule, states like Haryana and Andhra Pradesh acquired thousands of acres under SEZ and distributed them to real-estate giants and industrialists. “While acquiring land in Haryana, why did the Congress not apply the consent and social impact assessment clauses it is now demanding? Why did Sonia and Rahul Gandhi not stop the Congress governments in Haryana and Andhra Pradesh?,” Naidu said.
He said nearly 80,000 acres of farmers’ lands were acquired in Haryana under different pretexts while in Andhra, 3,77, 691 acres were acquired between 2004 and 2014 when the Congress was in power. He said Congress should “stop misleading people”. “Congress vice-president is saying he will not allow an inch of farmers’ land to be acquired. I want to know what is the scale of your inch? You have already acquired lakhs of acres,” he said.
Transport Minister Gadkari said Congress leaders have been indulging in “spreading baseless allegations” on the land Bill.
Birender Singh, Union Minister for Rural Development, alleged that the Congress used the SEZ policy as a pretext to acquire land. “Congress cleared 37 SEZs in Haryana but only six are functional,” he claimed. Accusing former Haryana CM Bhupinder Singh Hooda of “grabbing land”, he said: “There should be an inquiry into these land deals.”