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Govt ready to accept suggestions in farmers’ interest: Birender

Chaudhary Birender Singh 1

New Delhi: In the backdrop of NDA allies and RSS affiliates joining the Opposition in red-flagging some provisions of the contentious land bill, Government today said it is ready to consider suggestions on “any clause” but insisted that changes were brought in the previous legislation at the demand of a number of Congress-ruled states.

Rural Development Minister Chaudhary Birender Singh sought to downplay the opposition to the bill, saying “any organisation be it related to our party or others are not saying that the 2013 law is the ultimate.

“This is not their contention. They are saying that we have also some suggestions in the interest of farmers. They should be incorporated.”

Singh, who was in Congress when the 2013 land law was passed, alleged the UPA government had brought the legislation a few months before Lok Sabha elections to “garner votes”.

“If any suggestion comes in relation to any clause, we are ready to consider it in farmers’ interest…. There is no such rigidity on our part that we are not willing accept if there is anything good,” Singh said when asked about the demands to restore consent clause and Social Impact Assessment Singh’s remarks came in the backdrop of at least three NDA allies and four RSS affiliated organisations voicing concern over removal of consent clause and social impact assessment (SIA) provisions from the bill.

The contentious bill, which proposes amendments to Land Acquisition Act of 2013, is under examination of a Joint Committee of Parliament which is about to conclude its consultation process and consider it clause-by-clause next week.

While Shiv Sena, the second largest constituent of NDA after BJP, has, for quite some time, been on record seeking incorporation of a clause providing for 70 per cent consent of farmers in the bill, Shiromani Akali Dal and Swabhimani Paksha have written to the panel headed by S S Ahluwalia that “not an inch” of land should be acquired without the consent of farmers.

The affiliates of RSS including Swadeshi Jagaran Manch, Bhartiya Kisan Sangh, Bhartiya Mazdoor Sangh and Akhil
Bhartiya Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram have already opposed the billĀ  nd demanded restoration of the consent clause and social impact assessment.

Singh said that if the suggestions are good and in the interest of farmers, the government has no problem in accepting them.

“But right now the issue is before the Committee. Once the committee gives its report, then we will see and if good suggestions come in the interest of the farmers, we are ready to accept it. Earlier also I had said this. Even the Prime Minister had said so,” he said.

Singh said that some parties are saying that there should be nothing more or less than the 2013 bill, which does not work.

“In a Parliamentary democracy, communication is required. What is correct should be accepted. Government as well as Opposition should accept it.”

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