P M Stands His Ground, Opposes Changes to Land Reform Proposal
NEW DELHI: Despite the combined onslaught of the opposition and activists, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has decided that land reforms introduced by him will not be discussed at a meeting with leaders of all parties, a measure that was reportedly being considered in an attempt to craft consensus for a legislation that is key to the government’s economic agenda in this session of Parliament.
Critics say the proposed legislation to make it easier for businesses to buy farm land for infrastructure and industry is “anti-farmer.”
Mr Modi met this morning with top ministers including Rajnath Singh and Arun Jaitley to discuss how the government should navigate the fierce dissent from the Opposition, two major allies, and unions affiliated to the ruling party’s ideological mentor, the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh or RSS.
The PM reportedly indicated that in the absence of any attempt towards a compromise by the Opposition, it is not worth it to call an all-party session to solicit feedback on the land reforms. The PM is also not in favour of major revisions to the proposed land reforms, said sources.
In December, his government used an ordinance or executive order to exempt projects in defence, rural electrification, rural housing and industrial corridors from provisions of a law enacted by the previous Congress party government that mandated the consent of 80 percent of affected landowners for any deal.
The ordinance also ends the need for companies to conduct a social impact study of such projects, which would involve public hearings and, industry executives fear, drag on for years.
The ordinance is a temporary order and needs the approval of both houses of Parliament to come into force. It will lapse if Parliament does not ratify it this session.
Although the ruling BJP enjoys the biggest majority in 30 years in the Lok Sabha or lower house, it is in a minority in the Rajya Sabha or Upper House and needs the support of the Congress to pass bills there.