Prime Minister Narendra Modi suffered another setback on Wednesday as Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa caused a stir by stating that Modi government’s land acquisition bill is against the interests of farmers and unless some major amendments are made to it, the bill cannot be supported.
AIADMK had voted in favour of the bill in the Lok Sabha on March 10 but the new stand was sent by Jayalalitha in a printed speech to Modi that was taken on record at a meet of the Governing Council of NITI Aayog.
Jayalalithaa said she had backed the bill earlier as the Centre had accepted her suggestion to exclude acquisition for private hospitals and private educational institutions from the purview of the amendment.
She also stated that the farmers in the state are strongly opposed to the provisions which empower state governments to exempt specified projects. She added that it is a subject of state matter so it is best to be left for states to legislate.
Nine Chief Ministers of Congress-ruled states stayed away from the meeting. West Bengal CM Mamta Banerjee too skipped the meeting, but she wrote to Modi restating her stand against the bill.
“Our CMs skipped the meeting as our party’s position on the bill is well known. So what was the point? All nine of them have already written to the Joint Parliamentary Committee chairman (S S Ahluwalia) stating that they will not implement the amendments in their respective states,” senior Congress spokesperson Jairam Ramesh said.
It was surprising to see a hearty handshake by Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar with the PM and he also expressed his reservations on the bill.
Earlier in the day, stressing that the Centre and states must move together to end poverty, the PM said, “The political deadlock over land acquisition is seriously impacting rural development, including the creation of schools, hospitals, roads and irrigation projects.”
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley told the boycotting chief ministers to introspect whether not attending the meeting was in consonance with the spirit of cooperative federalism. He also said that if the Centre fails to approve the bill with consensus, then bringing in State-specific legislation will be left to the states. “Those states which want to develop fast… can suggest their own State legislations,” he said.
In the last one year, the Modi government has failed three times to get the bill passed in parliament.