New Delhi: Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi has found support from an unlikely quarter on the land ordinance issue. The Swadeshi Jagaran Manch (SJM), the economic policy wing of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, has asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to scrap the proposed amendments to the UPA’s Land Act of 2013.
In a strongly worded memorandum to the PM, the SJM has extolled the 2013 Act. It has termed the Modi government’s land bill a needless and “hasty” step that is anti-farmer, threatens food security and violates the principles of natural justice.
It has advocated retaining of provisions of the 2013 Act like the social impact assessment study of the land to be acquired and the consent clause, which have been dropped in the Modi government’s land ordinance.
In the last 11-months, the SJM has largely been muted in its opposition to the Modi government’s economic policies, barring on the issue of demanding a total ban field trials of GM or Genetically Modified crops. The memorandum, sent on Saturday, is the first clear opposition to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) led government’s economic policies.
The memorandum states that the Modi government has promised no acquisition of multi-crop as well as irrigated land, but there is no such explicit assurance in its land ordinance. It has termed it “unjust” that the ordinance has removed a clause from the 2013 Act which provided for acquired land to be returned to the original owner if it remains unutilized for five years.
The Manch has demanded a holistic land policy, a white paper on all land acquired by governments since independence, ban on the entry of foreign firms in e-commerce, a complete ban on various field trials of GM crops, stopping the entry of foreign companies in the insurance sector, protecting small scale and cottage industries and junking 2015-16 budget proposals on disinvestment of public sector companies.
It said these policies were not in public interest, and only a “new form” of old UPA policies. The Manch said the UPA governments had “colluded” with some big business houses and pursued policies that benefitted multi-national corporations. It was this anger among common people that resulted in the huge mandate for the Modi government, the memorandum said.
The Manch lauded the PM for financial inclusion schemes like the Jan Dhan Yojana and Mudra Bank.