New Delhi: Farmers and activists on Thursday demanded withdrawal of the NDA government's Land Acquisition law even as members of a parliamentary panel looking into the vexed legislation asked them to press Members of Parliament for support.
At a public hearing organised by Bhumi Adhikar Andolan, a union of peasants body, the land bill opposers, which included activist Medha Patkar, JPC members and MPs Jairam Ramesh of Congress and Mohammad Salim of CPI(M), also accused the Narendra Modi government of playing a new kind of conspiracy by getting the bill passed from the states.
"We want withdrawal of the bill. We also want to secure land rights for farmers. Modi asking states to frame their respective laws is nothing but, in a way, admission of his defeat as farmers have taken firm stand on the issue.
"It will also make clear that he is playing a new kind of conspiracy in getting the land bill promoted, projected and passed from states to the Centre (as it is in the concurrent list). (But) people's movements are determined to fight the law at state level also," social activist Medha Patkar said.
The outfits also passed a resolution to ensure that clauses like seeking farmers' consent and carrying out social impact assessments before land acquisition, are kept intact.
Ramesh advised farmers to put pressure on six members of the panel whose votes are crucial in deciding conclusion of the panel report. The JPC has 30 members.
"The committee has 13 members who are opposed to, while 11 are in favour of proposed amendments. So, the votes of rest six members, who are mostly regional party leaders, matter more. So, you need to pressurise them to protect your rights," Ramesh said, adding that the terms and references of the committee is restricted to 15 amendments proposed in the bill.
The Congress leader also accused the Centre of running away from its administrative and moral responsibility.
Ramesh also admitted that he was not completely satisfied with the 2013 Land Acquisition Act brought by the previous UPA government, but added that he had to find a middle path being a cabinet minister then.
Salim asked farmers to force their respective MPs to take
the right stance so as to ensure government changes its stand on the bill.
"You will feel cheated, if you rely on Parliamentarians. So, force your respective Parliamentarians to force government to change its approach," he said.
MDMK leader Vaiko, who too joined the farmers, said his party was "totally opposed" to the bill which is "anti-farmers".
"They will acquire lands and hand it over on a platter to the corporates. Yesterday, I met the Prime Minister and pleaded with him that farmers throughout the country are dejected and disappointed with the move. Don't carry this bad legacy of the previous government. Therefore, you will have to withdraw the bill. He said I will consider," Vaiko claimed.
The Tamil Nadu leader though expressed disappointment at not many JPC members turning up for the hearing.
General secretary of All India Kisan Sabha, farmers' wing of CPI(M), Hannan Mollah said the hearing was organised to let JPC members know views of farmers from across the country as the panel could not reach out to peasants directly.
CPI(M) MPs from Tripura Jitendra Choudhury and Shankar Dutta also attended the hearing expressing solidarity with farmers.
Farmers from Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan, Haryana and other parts of the country put forth their views during the meeting.