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Opposition set for do-or-die battle over land bill

Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  18 March 2015 12:00 AM GMT

New Delhi, March 17: A united opposition on Tuesday sounded its battle cry over the land acquisition bill as leaders of 14 political parties, led by Congress president Sonia Gandhi, marched to Rashtrapati Bhavan to urge President Prab Mukherjee not to let the government go ahead with the “anti-farmer bill”.

“Yeh aar paar ki ladai hai (this is a fight to the finish),” declared Jata Dal-United chief Sharad Yadav.

“This is the beginning of a major battle that will be waged in every nook and corner of the country,” he said at Rashtrapati Bhavan where the MPs assembled.

The march saw an energised Congress take on the rendra Modi government over the bill, which they allege would allow corporates to gobble up agricultural land.

Sonia Gandhi, with former prime minister Manmohan Singh standing next to her, declared that the opposition was determined to defeat the land acquisition bill.

Gandhi said “democratic, secular and forward-looking forces are determined to defeat the Modi government’s designs” to promote corporate interests at the cost of farmers by taking away their land.

Shouting slogans like “rendra Modi hosh me aao (come to your senses)” and “Modi sarkar hai hai (Modi government down, down)”, the around 100 MPs, led by Gandhi, and Congress’ Ghulam bi Azad and Ambika Soni, with Sharad Yadav and leaders of other parties, marched the around one km distance from Parliament House to Rashtrapati Bhavan.

Around 20 of them went in to submit the memorandum — signed by 28 leaders — to the president.

The two-page memorandum said “all the progressive, secular, democratic forward-looking forces are determined to defeat the Modi Sarkar’s design to promote division and social disharmony.

“We request Rashtrapatiji to intervene to protect the interests of the kisans (farmers), and impress upon the Modi sarkar, not to go ahead with the amendment in the Rajya Sabha.”

The ruling BJP-led tiol Democratic Alliance which is in majority in the Lok Sabha passed the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (Amendment) bill, 2015, with nine amendments.

However, it looks destined for tough times in the Rajya Sabha where the opposition holds the upper hand.

The united opposition is demanding that the amendments should have been considered by a standing committee before being taken up in parliament.

According to the opposition memorandum, the bill does away with the crucial Social Impact Assessment (SIA) clause which is essential to safeguard the interests of farmers and land owners and to ensure that multi-cropped land would be only acquired as a last resort.

The memorandum says the amendments do away with the requirement of consent of land owners for a number of key private projects.

The march saw sworn enemies, the Trimool Congress and the Left, come together to be part of the 14 party combine. The Bahujan Samaj Party of Mayawati was not present.

Besides the Congress, the 14 political parties included the Samajwadi Party, JD-U, Jata Dal-Secular, the DMK, the Communists, Trimool Congress and the tiolist Congress Party among others.

“This is a historic march. All parties are in it together and we hope the Modi government is watching this march,” Trimool leader Derek O’Brien told reporters.

The bill was passed in the Lok Sabha earlier this month amid stiff protest.

However, the government is yet to present it in the Rajya Sabha, where it lacks majority. IANS

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