New Delhi: Union Minister Nitin Gadkari today sought to dispel fears of farmers on the new land bill saying government will not do anything which is against their interests and is ready to accept any suggestions from the opposition.
Addressing farmers at a 'Samiksha Adhiveshan' on Land Acquisition Bill organised by All-India Panchayat Parishad here today, he said an attempt is being to "mislead" farmers in the country for vote-bank politics.
"We are in favour of farmers. Our government will never take any decision that does injustice with farmers. We have made changes in the bill that go in farmers' interests and have focused on their rehabilitation and resettlement. I invite all for an open debate," he said.
Attacking the opposition parties for their opposition to the bill, Gadkari said, "they are trying to mislead people on the new bill. They are doing this drama for their own political gains and for their vote bank politics. I appeal to them for an open debate. I challenge them and if proved wrong, we are ready to seek an apology and include your suggestions."
He also attacked the Congress for leading a march of all opposition parties against the new bill and questioned what it was doing for the last 55 years when they were in power in the country and why they did not think of developing rural infrastructure in the country all these years.
"Now when there is talk of developing rural infrastructure, they are opposing it. Where were they all these years when they were in power. Why did they not develop infrastructure in rural areas all these areas?," he said.
The Union Transport Minister said as per the new bill, we have decided to increase land compensation up to four times to farmers in rural areas and double the land price in urban areas, besides their resettlement and jobs to their kin.
He added that it was the UPA government which had excluded 13 laws outside the ambit of the provisions of mandatory consent and social impact under its bill and BJP government has only added a few more issues to the exempted list that include acquisition of land for defence and security, rural and social infrastructure, besides setting up of industrial corridors.
He also contended that chief ministers of Congress and Communist-ruled states have opposed the old land bill and have sought changes while the political parties are trying to do politics and mislead the people by doing marches outside Parliament.
Gadkari said it is the setting up of industrial corridors from which the opposition has the most objection and questioned why they are doing so, saying do villagers not have the right to progress, have jobs and ensure their produce is taken up by the industry.
"They want to tell you that Narendra Modi government is against the poor, against the farmers and wants to take land of farmers away forcibly. There is nothing of that kind. We will not take any steps which are anti-farmer. What did you do for farmers all along when they are still committing suicides? Why this sudden love for farmers?," he said.
He cited examples of former Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan and former Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda who were opposed to the previous land bill and had not granted four times compensation to farmers in rural areas.
"They are doing politics for their political gains and are misleading people on the new bill. There is no amendment against the farmers interests," he said.
He accused the opposition of trying to stop development of rural areas and push them behind by 20 years, besides take away job opportunities and progress of villagers.
He cited examples of Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat where the growth rate of agriculture is 33 per cent and 14 per cent respectively, while it is only 4 per cent in Maharashtra, and said the growth rate in rural areas and agriculture will increase once this bill is passed.
Gadkari also appealed to farmers to raise the issue by organising such farmer congregations and panchayats to dispel fears of farmers that the new bill is against them or their interests.
He also told farmers to spread the message of the new land bill that was in their favour by distributing the bill in Hindi to them.
While answering some of the concerns and questions of farmers, the Minister said the land acquisition issue comes under concurrent list as both the Centre and States had framed laws in this regard, but once a central law is made, the states have to frame their rules accordingly.