Land Bill Dropped for Farmers’ sake: Rajnath Singh
NEW DELHI:The government had decided to drop the controversial Land Acquisition Bill after farmers all over the country opposed the measure, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh told a huge gathering of farmers here on the occasion of the 80th birth anniversary of Bhartiya Kisan Union founder Mahendra Singh Tikait.Stating that the government had given in as farmers were “not happy” with the Bill, Mr. Singh said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi was not in favour of bringing the legislation if farmers were opposed to it. “On the issue of farmers and farming, our government and party does not care about victory or defeat. We cannot ignore farmers’ voice. If the Bill has to be brought, it will be done only after farmers agree to it,’’ he said.He admitted receiving several farmers’ delegations including from the BKU, that gave several suggestions on the Bill, but revealed that since there was no consensus, the government had decided to withdraw the Bill.The Bill is under the scrutiny of a Joint Parliamentary Committee. In particular, clauses pertaining to consent of the land owner before acquisition of land and the social impact assessment of acquisition were contentious, facing strong opposition from across the political spectrum. The Parliamentary panel report is to be tabled in the next session of Parliament. The Land Ordinance effecting amendments to the Bill was allowed to lapse in August.While assuring farmers of his personal attention to their problems, Mr. Singh admitted that the government had not succeeded in ensuring payment of sugarcane arrears to farmers but was hopeful of a solution in the next two to three months.He said that farming alone could not take care of their problems, especially of getting remunerative prices for their produce. “The only solution for assured income to farmers is that at least one member of the household should be engaged in another income-generating employment.”Paying tributes to Mahendra Tikait, he said the late leader was a true son of the soil, who raised issues pertaining to farmers boldly.According to former Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, Muzaffarnagar-based Tikait was the first farmers’ leader who gave a voice to farmers and showed them how to pressure Delhi. He was hinting at Tikait bringing Delhi to a standstill in 1988 when his supporters stormed Boat Club in tractors and bullock carts demanding better prices for their produce.A farmer from Muzaffarnagar, Minister of State for Agriculture Sanjeev Balyan, exhorted farmers to exert more pressure for getting remunerative price for their produce. “Unless consumer prices increase, how can farmers get better price for their produce?’’ he asked.Rakesh Tikait and Yudhvir Singh of BKU said farmers were in trouble and unless the government paid adequate attention, there would be a time when farmers would quit agriculture and turn to some other vocation.