The way entire opposition in the parliament, the NDA allies like Shiv Sena, LJP, and civil society activists like Anna Hazare, Arvind Kejriwal, etc. are opposing the proposed Land Acquisition Bill of the Government, it seems that their target is not the farmers, but Prime Minster Narendra Modi himself.
In the past 8-9 months, the opposition could not get a single chance to launch attack against Modi and his government. There were no charges of corruption against any cabinet or junior minsters; the government took prompt action against the erring bureaucrats like the Cabinet Home Secretary and the those involved in the spying case, there was no decline in popularity graph of the BJP and Narendra Modi. The opposition found itself like a fish out of water for not getting a chance to put the Modi government into the witness box.
And Here Came the much Debated Land Acquisition Bill to their Rescue.
The Modi government had effected some changes in the UPA Government’s Land Acquisition Bill keeping in view the priority of development works, security concerns and infrastructure urgencies. The amendments were effected after due consultation with all the chief minsters of the states. They too had opted for these changes in the original land acquisition bill. Thus the amended bill was presented to the Parliament during the winter session.
The Lok Sabha passed the bill but as expected the Upper House held it back for obvious fact that the ruling dispensation does not enjoy majority in the House. The other bills brought up by the government met the same fate in the Rajya Sabha forcing the Modi government to opt for the controversial ‘ordinance way’.
It is surprising that the provisions of the bill were opposed by the same parties whose state governments have strongly consented to them. The Congress is the best example of this dichotomy. The Congress party governments in the states have objected to certain provisions of the land acquisition act of the UPA government in 2011. Now the same Congress threatens the government with ‘dire consequences’ if the government were to go ahead with this ‘anti-farmer’ bill.
The Prithviraj Chauhan government in Maharshtra pointed to the shortcomings in the UPA act presented by the then Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh. Chauhan had pointed then that the provisions would entail more expenditure on the state exchequer as the government would be required to pay more for land acquisition for public projects.
The governments of Kerala and Karnataka-both non-BJP governments—had noted that the clause of social impact should be confined to large projects only. Kerala had even gone a step ahead demanding to do away with the consent of the land owners to avoid future hassles. Haryana pleaded for reducing the consensus for PPP to 50 percent or remove the clause permanently.
According to experts there is nothing objectionable or ‘anti-farmer’ in this new land acquisition bill of the Modi government that needs such staunch and strong, united opposition. On the contrary those opposing the bill know it well that this bill in its present format is beneficial for the farmers and other countrymen. But they have a strategic reason for opposing the bill. And that reason is their ‘Anti-Modism’!
During the last 8 months the opposition could not get any single issue to encircle the Modi government and particularly, Prime Minster Narendra Modi. They tried all their best to catch the Prime Minster unawares but could not do so. The latest example of ‘Namo Suit’can best explain their predicament.
The opposition to this bill in the Rajya Sabha can be seen from this point of view. The ruling NDA does not enjoy majority in the House. So, on every trivial matter the opposition had tried to stall tge working of the House in the last session. They are at it again and this time targeting the land bill dubbing it ‘anti-farmer’. The dharna agitation of Anna Hajare has lent them strength and the ‘secular’ media has been projecting one sided views on the bill.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had correctly questioned the propriety of the opposition in opposing the bill when the bill was yet to be introduced in the Rajya Sabha? Experts too feel that before opposing the bill it would be pertinent to study the provisions and know them properly.
India has majority of population dependent on farming for livelihood. But their earnings from farming is so meagre that it becomes almost difficult for them to make the two ends meet. ON the other hand there is a paucity of land for other non-farm projects that can give more earnings.
This calls for making more land available for industry and infrastructure projects and reduce their dependence on agriculture. There is no other alternative also. Therefore the Modi government decided to take strides in this direction through this bill.
The argument of the Congress and other parties seems to be more in favour of the law enacted by the UPA government because the process of land acquisition and compensation was made so complicated in that law which would kill the time unnecessarily. Modi government has removed this delay and made acquisition and paying its cost easy. Thus, the farmers would get the value of their land quickly and without hassles.
Besides, there is provision of 70 to 80 per cent consensus and study of social impact for the land to be acquired. These provisions would complicate the process of land acquisition allowing the interference of the middlemen and agents. Most of the landowners are politicians and they feel that if the businessmen came to their doors they would be benefited. Modi government wanted to do away with these middlemen and agents and take the benefits to the farmers directly.
The NDA, therefore, simplified the acquisition process assuring early settlement of compensation and acceleration of the development projects. Another aspect of this bill is it will create more jobs for the rural youths as land would be made available for infrastructure and housing projects in the rural areas also.
Another argument advanced against the bill is that it provides for acquiring fertile farm land adversely affecting the production of food grains. But the production of food grains is not entirely dependent on fertility of the land. It is also dependent on the farm practices, use of technology and machines. Thus this argument also does not hold good.
If India were to accomplish the dream of “sab ka saath-sab ka vikas” as envisaged by Prime Minster Modi, it has to concentrate on development of infrastructure and industry to create more jobs for the youth. The Prime Minister has already given the “Make in India” call inviting industries to set up units in the country. All that needs land and once these projects come up, they will provide jobs and earning sources for the people improving their lifestyle and standard of living.
Those who are opposing this bill must understand that they are destroying the economy of the country which has poised for a great take off under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Those NDA allies like Shiv Sena that have no other option must give up their blackmailing tactics in the interest of development of nation.
By: Virag Pachpore