NEW DELHI: Eight months after the Centre promulgated the ordinance to amend the 2013 Land Acquisition Act, prompting protests from Opposition parties and farmer groups, Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared that his government was open to suggestions and would let the ordinance lapse.
Significantly, Modi himself made the announcement to allay the ‘fears’ and ‘misgivings’ of the farmers about the ordinance. The government had on Friday included the 13 Acts, which were exempted under 2013 law brought by the UPA Government, under its purview for enhanced compensation. Now, the 2013 law will stay in force.
The government made the tactical retreat before the Bihar elections as it did not want to give a handle to the Opposition parties in attacking the Centre.
BJP chief Amit Shah was quick to hail PM’s announcement made in his radio show ‘Mann Ki Baat’ on Sunday. “This step is taken in favour of farmers. I welcome this and I thank the PM,” Shah said.
Predictably, the Opposition too went for the kill. Congress chief Sonia Gandhi said in Patna that the government has bowed before the Opposition and farmers’ pressure.
Earlier, speaking during the radio show, the Prime Minister said, “I have said it earlier also. The government has an open mind on the Land Acquisition Bill, about which there is a lot of controversy. I have said it again and again that I am ready to accept any suggestion for the benefit of farmers.”
“We had promulgated an Ordinance on Land Acquisition Bill which will expire tomorrow (Monday). I have decided that it should be allowed to expire. It means restoration of the situation that prevailed before my government took over,” Modi added.
Modi maintained that the suggestions for “improving” upon the Land Act of 2013 had come from states who believed that for the welfare of farmers, there should be canals to bring irrigation water, electric poles for electricity, roads, houses and poor villagers should get work and “we should free this law from the clutches of the bureaucracy”.
He rued the fact that many created a sense of misapprehension and even instilled fear among the farmers about the bill brought by his government this year.
He assured the farmers, “You should neither have doubts nor have any fear and I will not give any such opportunity to anybody. Now there is no cause for any doubt and if anybody tries to create fear, you should not be scared”.
Referring to the inclusion of 13 Acts for enhanced compensation in the old law, Modi said that this was done so that the farmers do not lose out financially.
“I want to assure the farmers that for us, ‘jai jawan, jai kisan’ is not just a slogan but our ‘mantra’. That is why I announced creation of a ministry for farmers’ welfare during my Independence Day address,” he said.
While, touching upon other subjects in his address, Prime Minister asked the people to adopt social security schemes Jandhan and Suraksha Yojana.
He said that under the Suraksha Bandhan insurance scheme 11 crore families have become associated with it, 17.74 crore accounts were opened in Jan Dhan Yojna, while 1.25 lakh enrolled as ‘bank mitra’ (friends of bank).
Modi also spoke about his interaction with the Sufi leaders a few days ago. “Few days back I had the opportunity of meeting Sufi saints and scholars. I tell you honestly that the experience with which they spoke, the way they spoke, it was like music to the ears. The choice of their words, the way they spoke, the meaning, the generosity in Sufism, I felt nice.”
■ December 31, 2014: Ordinance promulgated to amend Land Act, 2013
■ April 3, 2015: Ordinance re-promulgated as it was set to lapse on April 5
■ May 31, 2015: Ordinance re-promulgated again as it was set to lapse on June 3