Bhubaneswar: Congress on Monday said another ‘Mahabharata' would be fought over proposed amendments in the land acquisition Act in which parties like BJD must prove their commitments towards farmers and tribals.
“Prime Minister Narendra Modi is behaving like Duryodhan of Mahabharat and ready to sacrifice interest of farmers and tribals to appease the corporates which invested in the public issue (Modi) during elections. Investors now want dividends in the form of land,” former Union Minister Jairam Ramesh told reporters here.
Appealing to BJD president and Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik to oppose the ordinance on land acquisition in Rajya Sabha, Ramesh said, “Here is an opportunity for Naveen Babu to prove his commitment towards farmers and tribals.”
The NDA government is not in a majority in Rajya Sabha and therefore needs support of parties like BJD and others for amending the Land Acquisition Act, 2013.
Stating that “secret” relationship between Naveen's BJD and Modi's BJP was now exposed after Prime Minister thanked the Odisha CM over his support on MMDR Act in the Parliament, Ramesh said, “I suspect a deal between the BJD and BJP over coal bill, mines bill and land bill.”
“The deal is suspected to have been made to bail out BJD from the chitfund scam where the regional party's leaders are involved. The deal is to make Odisha chitfund free,” Ramesh said adding he would request Patnaik to wake up and oppose amendments in the Land Acquisition Act, 2013.
Noting that 14 parties, including Samajwadi Party, BSP, CPM, CPI, NCP, JD(U), TMC and DMK, have openly opposed the amendments in 2013 land acquisition act, the former Rural Development Minister Ramesh said Congress is in constant touch with these parties over the issue.
To a question, Ramesh, however, said that he is making an appeal to Naveen Patnaik's BJD and Jayalitha's AIADMK through the media to oppose the proposed amendments in the Land Acquistion Act, 2013 if they sincerely fight for the interest of farmers and the tribals.
Ramesh said even NDA allies like Akali Dal and Shiv Sena were not happy over the proposed amendments in the Act.
“Even RSS is not happy over the proposed amendments in the 2013 land act,” he claimed.
Noting that this is the moment of test for all political parties, Ramesh said though Naveen Patnaik is a friend to Delhi, his BJD must oppose the amendments in the Act.
“I am making a special appeal to Naveen Patnaik to utilise the opportunity and prove that he is committed to the farmers and tribals,” the senior Congress leader said.
He, however, refused to meet Patnaik and directly approach him to oppose the amendments.
“I am not seeking support for Congress. It is to support cause of farmers and tribals for which Congress along with others have been fighting for,” he said.
Ramesh said: “We are not depending on Patnaik to fight against the Duryodhan (Modi) government over the land act issue. I request him (Patnaik) to support farmers who are ‘Pandavas' in the 2015 Mahabharat.”
Terming the NDA government headed by Modi as “arrogant” and “one-man government,” Ramesh said the farmers will be back to colonial era if the amendments were made to the Act.
Explaining reasons behind Congress' opposition to proposed changes in land acquisition Act, Ramesh said, BJP introduced two ordinances to make major changes in the existing Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act 2013.
There were guidelines in the existing law that government would return the acquired land if it is lying unused for five years. However, there is no such system in the new law, he pointed out.
Similarly, the government attempted to amend Section 10(A) of the Act to expand sectors where assessment and consent will not be required. So the government or private individuals /companies will no longer need mandatory 80 per cent consent for land acquisition.
The mandatory “consent” clause and Social Impact Assessment (SIA) will not be in the new Bill where ownership of land continues to be vested with the government, the former minister rued.
The ruling BJD, however, rejected the allegations made by Ramesh about a “deal” with BJP.
“BJD is committed to guard farmers' interest. There is no links of chit fund scam with the Bill,” BJD spokesperson Samir Das said.
BJP leader Suresh Pujari termed the Bill as pro-farmer.
“Jayaram Ramesh should read the ordinance carefully. Land acquisition is necessary for people's development,” he said.