BJP fights ‘battle of perception’

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on January 23, 2018

PowerPoint presentation on Land Act at party's Bengaluru meet sets the course

Caught in a hailstorm of protests against the land acquisition ordinance, the BJP is following a five-point charter prescribed at last week’s meeting of the party’s national executive in Bengaluru.

The “suggested way ahead” described in a PowerPoint presentation at the national executive describes the ordinance and amendment as “more of a battle of perception”. To fight this “battle”, the party agreed that there is a need to engage with farmers and explain the provisions of the Bill in detail.

Its future engagements with farmers and other stakeholders will be based on the argument that the ordinance and amendment in the Land Acquisition Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013 have been introduced only to remove and iron out the “difficulties and shortcomings of LARR 2013, experienced from ground level implementation”.

The ruling party’s argument is that in effective terms, only the scope of social impact assessment has been narrowed down while the main safeguards have been retained in the Act.

It will highlight that a grievance redressal mechanism has now been made available at the district level.

More importantly, the party intends to convince farmers that the higher value of their land can be unlocked “only through development activities and building of infrastructure in the villages”.

To counter opposition from regional leaders who have joined the street agitation against the Land Bill — with West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee addressing a protest march in Kolkata on Wednesday and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal planning a similar protest at Jantar Mantar here on April 22 — the BJP’s argument is simple: “Land acquisition is on the Concurrent list, so State governments are free to implement the new Act or not.”

The last formulation deals with the unease among tribal population. “The Forest Rights Act and Tribal Rights Act protect the rights of tribal people and their forest land and therefore these are not affected by the provision of new Act. Their rights are also protected under sections 5 and 6 of the Constitution,” said the PowerPoint presentation that formed part of the political resolution that was passed at the national executive meet.

Silent on consent

The document is, however, by and large silent on the most contentious part of the ordinance as well as the proposed amendment Bill — doing away with the provision that requires the consent of farmers before the acquisition of land.

Published on April 09, 2015

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