Govt likely to delay land bill

Land Acquisition Bill

NEW DELHI (TIP): The government is taken aback by events following the suicide of a farmer at the Aam Admi Party (AAP) rally.

The Opposition in Parliament squarely blamed the “anti-farmer” policy of the Narendra Modi government  for  driving farmers to take the drastic step.

Consequently, there is perceptible worry among BJP ministers and MPs that it could cast shadow on the government’s plans to legislate a bill to replace the land acquisition ordinance, which had to be re-promulgated. The government did not place the bill in the Rajya Sabha because it does not have majority there.

There is every possibility that the bill will not be allowed to come up in the Upper House again, said BJP floor managers.

Given the political atmosphere following the suicide episode, the government itself could decide not to bring the bill to replace the ordinance until the fag end of the session, which ends in the second week of May.

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As yet, however, there is no indication that Modi will back down on his resolve on the matter though he may want more safety measures to end the distress of farmers.

In fact, shortly before he addressed the Lok Sabha on Thursday, Modi met seniors ministers Rajnath Singh, Arun Jaitley, Venkaiah Naidu and Nitin Gadkari to formulate the government’s response. The PM’s line was that the issue of farmer suicides should not be allowed to be mixed up with the issue of amending the land acquisition law passed by the UPA, which is blamed for hurdles in acquiring land for key infrastructure project.

In keeping with the PM’s statement that “we have to find a way and we can’t leave farmers helpless”, the government might re-examine relief package for agriculturists, which have been announced from time to time. An all-party meet could also be called on the subject. As a counter measure, the BJP has blamed Congress for the suicide, saying misrule by the previous Congress-led UPA is responsible to present situation. Over 3,000 farmers have committed suicide in the past three years and nearly three lakh farmers took their lives since 1995, according to the National Crime Research Bureau.

The five worst-hit states are Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and Kerala. Maharashtra alone has recorded over 10,000 suicides between 2011 and 2013. Its Marathwada region has seen over 200 suicides in three months.

“It should be our determination to find a solution to this problem. The issue has been there for long, we will take all good suggestions: For years the issue of farmers committing suicide is a matter of great concern,” Modi said on April 23.

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