New Delhi: In a major climbdown ahead of Bihar Assembly elections, the Narendra Modi government has announced that it will allow the controversial land ordinance to lapse. The land ordinance expires on Monday bringing back the Land Bill passed by the previous United Progressive Alliance (UPA) in 2013.
According to sources, the move comes ahead of the Bihar elections as the Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) Bihar unit wanted a delay in the bill. They felt that the opponents would use the land ordinance against them during the campaign. Even RSS affiliates wanted either a name change of the bill or for it to be delayed further.
The Opposition has been quick to claim victory. Bihar CM Nitish Kumar said that it's a defeat for the Prime Minister and a win for the people of India.
Modi had on Sunday announced that the government will not re-promulgate the controversial Ordinance on Land Acquisition and declared readiness to incorporate any suggestion in the bill on it which is pending in Rajya Sabha to benefit the farmers.
Apparently referring to the political opponents, he said lot of doubts have been created over the land bill and fear instilled among farmers even though states had suggested amendments to the Act of 2013 for the benefit of villages and villagers.
"We had promulgated an Ordinance on Land Acquisition Bill which will expire tomorrow. I have decided that it should be allowed to expire. It means restoration of the situation that prevailed before my government took over," the Prime Minister said in his monthly radio programme 'Mann Ki Baat'.
The government had issued the Ordinance thrice so far, as the Land bill could not be passed in Parliament due to stiff resistance by most of the opposition parties as well as some ruling NDA allies.
The bill, which seeks to amend the Act of 2013, is currently being scrutinised by a Joint Committee of Parliament, to which it was referred by Rajya Sabha during Budget Session in the wake of strong opposition by several parties.
The PM's announcement makes it clear that the government will try to use the legislative route to enact the law, instead of the executive mechanism.
Highly-placed sources explained that the decision of not re-promulgating the Ordinance was taken against the backdrop of the recommendation of NITI Aayog that enacting law on land acquisition should be left to states, since the subject is on the Concurrent List of the Constitution.
The sources pointed out that the bill on land acquisition was still alive in Rajya Sabha and the government is awaiting the report of the Joint Committee of Parliament on it.
(With PTI inputs)