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To placate opposition, Government moves nine amendments to Land Acquisition Bill

New Delhi9Web Team): The government on Tuesday moved nine amendments to the Land Acquisition Bill in order to gain support from the Opposition. This includes an exemption to social infrastructure projects in Public-Private Partnership (PPP) model.

Congress on Monday had decided to vote against against controversial Land Bill in Lok Sabha if Government does not withdraw changes or refuses to send it to the Standing Committee.

Party President Sonia Gandhi chaired two meetings of the Parliamentary Affairs Committee of the party and all its 44 Lok Sabha MPs to discuss the strategy over the bill, whose 2013 version was the brainchild of party Vice President Rahul Gandhi. The party is issuing a three-line whip to its members in the Lower House asking them to be present and vote against the measure.

“We will vote against the bill in the Lok Sabha if Government fails to revert to the orginal bill of 2013 or sends the new bill to the Standing Committee for consideration,” party whip in Lok Sabha K C Venugopal said after the meeting. Congress MP Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said, “we will oppose the bill tooth and nail.” Indications of escalating confrontation between the government and the Congress over the measure were visible earlier in the day, when the main Opposition party accused Modi’s “personal adamance” for the showdown.

The amendments seeks to exempt social impact surveys for land acquisition for five purposes including industrial corridor, rural infrastructure and housing for poor. Congress is insisting that it wants “no changes” in the 2013 Land Act. It has been accusing the Prime Minister and his government of killing the soul and spirit of the Act. Congress has also got a shot in arm with NDA ally Shiv Sena saying it has not taken any decision on supporting the legislation or otherwise.

“We have given our suggestions to the Prime Minister in writing. We will act according to the direction of the party chief Uddhav Thackeray,” party leader Sanjay Raut told PTI, indicating that the bill in its present form was not accepatable to the party.

Shiv Sena is the second largest constituent of the BJP led NDA, having 18 members in the Lower House and three in the Upper House. Modi dispensation has the numbers in the Lok Sabha to see the bill through but is not in a majority in the Rajya Sabha.

The Opposition strategy appears to be to keep the bill pending in the Rajya Sabha without rejecting it so as to torpedo possible plans of the government to call a joint session. A measure has to be passed in one House and get defeated in the other to enable it to be brought up in a joint session for passage.

With agency inputs

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