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Won’t allow anti-farmer land ordinance to become law: Congress



New Delhi, Feb 25 (IANS) Taking the fight against the NDA government’s land acquisition ordinance to the street, the Congress on Wednesday said it would not allow the "anti-farmer" ordinance to become a law.

Participating in a well-attended protest programme at Jantar Mantar here, various Congress leaders said the land acquisition ordinance was "anti-farmer and anti-people".

Senior Congress leader and former minister Jairam Ramesh said it was a ‘Zamin Waapsi Aandolan’ (taking land back movement) against the ‘Ghar Waapsi’ (coming back to one’s old religious faith) government.

"It took our government to prepare the Land Acquisition Act 2013 two years but the present government did not even take full two hours to change it," Ramesh said, who as minister was instrumental in bringing in the act after reviewing the 125-year British time law on the subject.

The Modi government promulgated an ordinance in December 2014, bringing in changes to the 2013 Act. The opposition has accused the government of bringing in the ordinance to favour corporates in acquiring land.

Accusing the Narendra Modi government of not caring for democratic norms on such an important matter, the Congress leader said the National Democratic Alliance government did not consult anybody before bringing in the ordinance.

"Why did they have to do so? When they had already given their consent on the issue (the 2013 land act), why had they to bring in a new one which was not in the interest of the people," he said, addressing hundreds of farmers from areas adjoining the national capital and Congress party workers.

Ramesh said the government had changed all the important points of the 2013 act, including that land could not be taken without the consent of the land owner, which he said "could not be acceptable in a democratic setup like ours".

"How can a government do so? It’s not your land it belongs to the people. It’s they who will have to be consulted before any such move," he said.

The former minister said that clauses like if the acquired land has not been used for the purpose it was taken for five years, it would be returned to the farmer, too has been removed. Also the social impact of land acquisition on landless people, who used to survive on that very land, and how they could be re-settled well, was missing in the ordinance.

Another senior Congress leader, Ahmed Patel, speaking on the occasion said the BJP wanted a ‘Congress Mukt’ (Congress free) India, "now it seems, by bringing in this land acquisition ordinance they want a ‘Farmer Mukt’ (farmer free) country.

"It’s totally anti-farmer, anti-people and the government has just one aim and that is to please the big corporates," he said.

Similarly, Congress leaders Digvijay Singh, Ajay Maken, Raj Babbar, Deepender Hooda and Jyotiraditya Scindia also accused the central government of indulging in anti-people activities.

Babbar wondered why the BJP gave its consent when the then Congress government was preparing the land bill, which was passed as the 2013 land act.

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