Modi counters Oppn with ‘big plan’ to give land to farmers
New land ordinance is promulgated after President Pranab Mukherjee gives nod
BANGALORE: In a combative public speech Friday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi defended his government’s decisions and announced a “big campaign” to hand out land to farmers, a surprise move to blunt an unrelenting Opposition’s land bill charge.
Though he did not directly mention the fresh land ordinance – promulgated earlier in the day after the President’s nod
-- or spell out the details of the new programme to be launched soon, Modi said land records would be “reformed” and farmers would stand to gain from it.
“Land records will be reformed so that farmers get back their land ( which they lost). For this, we will launch a big campaign,” he said.
Addressing a public meeting on the sidelines of the ruling BJP’s national executive meet here, Modi sought to take the fight to the Opposition, following a tough Parliament session and some sharp attacks in recent days following a racist remark by one of his ministers.
The PM said some of the NDA’s policies – “niti”-- might appear to be similar to that of its predecessor, but it was his government’s “niyat”, or intentions, that set it apart.
Modi came down hard on the Opposition that has vowed to resist the “anti-farmer” land bill. “How did farmers lose their land? Where did it go?...” Modi asked. “To get a job of a peon for their children or to make them a driver, they used to be compelled to sell their land to pay bribes. The ( previous) governments compelled them (to sell land).”
The ruling party’s conclave has been a show of resolve to persevere with Modi policies. The party, said sources, was examining a proposal to hold a series of rally in May in support of the legislation that aims to ease land acquisition rules for industry.
In an address to party workers that preceded Modi’s speech, BJP president Amit Shah sought to rally the rank and file around the land bill, saying it was profarmer. However, uncertainty over whether party patriarch Lal Krishna Advani would be picked as a speaker, among many others, made for a controversy.
CONTINUED ON P7