No going back on land bill, open to changes: Gadkari

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New Delhi, May 19: Union minister Nitin Gadkari on Tuesday ruled out going back on the land bill but said the government was open to incorporating more amendments which are in the interest of farmers.

Government's key pointsman with other parties on the bill, Gadkari alleged that Congress was opposing the bill for political reasons as part of its agenda to spread disinformation against the government.

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"There is no question of going back on the land bill... Whatever is in the interests of the nation will be done forcefully," the Road Transport Minister told PTI in an interview.

Gadkari said the government has been speaking to opposition parties to get their support in Rajya Sabha, where NDA lacks in numbers, and noted BJD's decision to support the bill. He was asked how the government would cobble up numbers in Rajya Sabha for the passage of the bill.

To a question if the government was willing to bring in more amendments to accommodate opposition, he noted that nine of them have already been brought in and the government was open to "good" suggestions.

"If the amendments are good, then Prime Minister Narendra(Modi), our government will (accept)," he said.

Gadkari, however, made it clear that the government was committed to pressing ahead with the legislation in Parliament irrespective of the stand of the opposition parties.

"BJD has come out in our support on the land bill. We were accused of being arrogant, now we are going to everybody with folded hands... If they come, it is good; if they oppose we will continue to move forward," he said.

To another query on reservation expressed by BJP allies Shiv Sena and Swabhiman Paksha, Gadkari said each one has his own axe to grind and used a Hindi proverb, "looking somewhere, targeting something else".

Succumbing to the opposition pressure, the government has sent the contentious bill to a joint committee of Parliament, which is scheduled to submit its report in the beginning of the monsoon session.

The government has promulgated the land ordinance twice so far in the absence of parliamentary nod. 

Gadkari equated opposition of Congress to the land bill with its campaign of "fear-mongering" among minorities against the BJP, saying it was doing so for political reasons even though ground situation was far different.

"Under UPA's tenure, growth rate had dipped to 4.25 per cent and the country was wrecked. Parties like Congress think what will happen to them if the country moves towards progress and development. They think they will be asked by people what did they do?," he said.

Dismissing Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi's accusations against the government that it was "anti-farmer" and "anti-poor", the Union minister asked where was he when farmers were in distress after crops were hit by unseasonal rains and hailstorms.

"Where was he for those two months when farmers were committing suicide," he asked, comparing his recent acts of aggression as "one-act plays" and "drama".

Hitting out at Congress, Gadkari said its government did not bother about the consent clause and social impact assessment-- two aspects which the BJP government has removed for certain categories of land acquisition-- when it gave away land to Robert Vadra, the son-in-law of Congress President Sonia Gandhi.

He said it was only a "microscopic minority" which was fuelling the perception that the bill was against the interests of farmers.

"They are a microscopic minority. Their political agenda is that the nation should not progress. Creating fear in the minds of people and farmers is a part of their political strategy. That is why they are terming the government as anti-poor and that it is a 'suit-boot ki sarkar'," he said.

Noting that Chief Ministers of the states ruled by Congress and the Left had written to him in support of amending the land bill brought in by the UPA regime, Gadkari said the government felt strongly about the bill in a same way that people have to swallow bitter pill to regain their health.

PTI

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