Chances of Land Bill Getting Passed in Monsoon Session of Parliament Recede: Sources

NEW DELHI,Rahul Shrivastava: The chances of the NDA government’s Land Bill being passed during the upcoming monsoon session of Parliament are receding. Though the Opposition’s demands for the resignation of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje over the Lalit Modi controversy and Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan over Vyapam scam threaten to derail the session, the government seems to be having its own doubts.

Chances of Land Bill Getting Passed in Monsoon Session of Parliament Recede: Sources

During the last session, due to the Opposition’s pressure the government had sent the bill to a joint committee of the two houses which was asked to submit its report on the first day of the monsoon session. But now, the committee’s head, BJP lawmaker SS Ahluwalia, has written to the Lok Sabha Speaker seeking an extension for a week. Since the final report of the committee needs to be converted into a bill, the legislative department may take a few days time. The session is short and it seems there may be little time for a bill like land acquisition.

Government sources say the upcoming Bihar elections are another reason why the government has lost its zeal to pass the bill in the monsoon session. After the Opposition’s campaign against the bill and protests by farmers, the government realises that pushing the bill aggressively might have a fallout in Bihar where the BJP is desperate to do well, say sources.

The Opposition’s charge of the bill being anti-farmer is a big cause of worry for the government. Sources say not only is the government looking for a way out, but is also attempting to disassociate PM Narendra Modi from the bill which eases land acquisition rules for few categories like defence and atomic energy projects, infrastructute schemes and industrial corridors. Sources say the PM is now averse to brute show of strength like a joint session of Parliament as it would be interpreted as him forcing a bill which has earned the perception that it may hurt the interest of farmers.

The BJP’s rethink was also promoted by the opposition within. Allies Akali Dal and Shiv Sena want major changes in the land bill. During the meetings of the joint committee, the two have expressed strong support to the reintroduction of the consent clause claiming that its absence will expose farmers to immense risk.

The BJP’s ideological mentor, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh or the RSS too is making similar noises. RSS affiliate Swadeshi Jagran Manch during a deposition before the parliamentary panel battled for the consent clause and shorter duration for return of land back to farmers if projects for which land was acquired didn’t take off. The Swadeshi Jagran Manch had gone on to charge the Modi government with moving away from its poll promises.