February 23, 2015 3:21:27 am
The farm wing of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) has attacked the Narendra Modi government’s land ordinance, and has threatened to hit the streets in protest if the government fails to withdraw it.
The Bharatiya Kisan Sangh (BKS) also does not rule out joining Anna Hazare’s movement against the ordinance.
“The land acquisition Act passed by the UPA government was no doubt extreme because it made any land acquisition practically impossible. But the present government has gone to the other extreme by doing away with the 80 per cent landowners’ consent clause and social impact assessment even for land being acquired for private industry,” BKS general secretary Prabhakar Kelkar told The Indian Express.
Kelkar said the government could have taken farmers into confidence before bringing the ordinance. “We are not opposed to land acquisition if it is in the national interest, be it for railways, defence or other public infrastructure. But why should the government acquire land for five-star hospitals, private educational institutions or public-private-partnership projects. Is it a dalal (commission agent)?” he said.
Asked what the BKS planned to do if the government ignored its demand to withdraw the ordinance, Kelkar said: “The option to go to the streets is always open to us.” However, the first option would be to approach MPs, he said. “If 200 of them speak against the ordinance, the Bill (enabling its enactment) will not get passed.”
Kelkar also said the BKS would join the Anna movement if invited. “Agar bulaawa aaya to hum zaroor jayenge (If we are invited, we will definitely go).”
He said it did not matter that the Centre was now under a party with strong links to the BKS’ own parent, the RSS: “We represent farmers and rural people. While raising their issues, we never consider which party is running the government.”
The BKS leader said there was need to fundamentally rethink the current policy of land acquisition. The government takes land from farmers in the name of building infrastructure, but the land never gets used for the stated purpose, he said.
Kelkar also alleged that the Centre’s delay in importing urea ahead of the current rabi planting season was part of a “conspiracy” to discourage wheat and paddy cultivation in the country.
“The government has been constantly saying that there is too much rice and wheat in the country and it wants farmers to grow more pulses. I think not importing urea is part of a plan to make rice and wheat cultivation loss-making. Besides, there is probably pressure for the WTO to cut farm subsidies,” he said.
Kelkar, whose organisation claims a nationwide membership of 20 lakh-plus farmers, said that the BJP’s crushing defeat in the Delhi assembly elections was no less the result of the Centre’s anti-farmer policies. “It did not win a single rural seat. Unhe Dilli me jawaab mil gaya hai (they got the reply in the Delhi elections),” he said.
“A PSU like BHEL has thousands of acres of unused land in Bhopal,” Kelkar said.
“Corporates too own huge tracts of land across the country. Yet, everyone wants new fertile land. The government should seek to acquire the 20 per cent land that is barren for the purpose of infrastructure development. Why is it interested in acquiring only farmers’ land, and that too fertile land,” he asked.
Kelkar suggested the government should utilize the thousands of acres of land it had acquired through the so-called industrial development corporations. “We know there are very few functioning industries on these lands. Why can’t these lands be put to use?”
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