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Land Acquisition Bill: Narendra Modi government concerned about political fall-out

The Cabinet meeting on March 20 soon after Parliament went into a recess did not take a final call on the issue, sources said.

Updated: Mar 23, 2015, 05.28 AM IST
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NEW DELHI: More than the issue of whether the government should repromulgate the Land Acquisition Ordinance or let it lapse and then try to get the bill passed in the Rajya Sabha in April-May, the Modi dispensation is concerned about the political fallout of the proposed law as the opposition parties take to the streets and propagate that it is antifarmer and pro-corporate.

Both Houses of Parliament have gone into a recess, and not prorogued.

Asked about the government plans on the land ordinance, union ministers told ET that no decision has been taken till now. The Cabinet meeting on March 20 soon after Parliament went into a recess did not take a final call on the issue, sources said.

“Ministers and spokespersons have been told to defend the bill — that has been passed by the Lok Sabha with nine amendments — in their respective constituencies and via media. They will underline the views of states have been accommodated and interests of landowners have not been compromised,” a senior BJP leader said.

Land Acquisition Bill: Narendra Modi government concerned about political fall-out PM Narendra Modi seems to be leading the pack as he defended the bill in his “Mann Ki Baat” on Sunday. He dispelled opposition charge that it is anti-farmer and pro-corporate while defending the need for an amendment bill to alter the 2013 Act.

“We will bring the Land Acquisition Bill in the Rajya Sabha after the recess. Let there be a nationwide debate till then.... We will decide on the next course of action in due course,” Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu had said on March 20.

The Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Ordinance promulgated on December 31 lapses on April 5. The government will either have to promulgate a new ordinance — which would include the nine amendments passed by the Lok Sabha — or wait till April 20 when Parliament convenes again.

“Government cannot promulgate an ordinance when the House is in recess as it is now. It will have to prorogue the House to bring an ordinance. Till this day Parliament has not been prorogued. But there is always a tomorrow and government can do it before promulgating the land ordinance,” Constitutional expert Subash Kashyap told ET.

Parliament would be considered as being in session — with a recess break — from March 20 to April 20. Kashyap maintains government can even prorogue one House (the Rajya Sabha in this case) and promulgate the ordinance as Article 123 that deals with President’s ordinance-making powers states he can do so “except when both Houses of Parliament are in session”. However, it is not the technicalities that bother the BJP at this moment.

“Congress, Left and other Opposition parties have succeeded in creating a perception that the proposed amendment bill is against the farmers. The march to Rashtrapati Bhawan in which 14 parties took part, the opposition from Anna Hazare and several NGOs to the land bill have made things difficult,” a Union minister said.

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