New Delhi: Claiming that the Congress Vice President deserved all the credit for the Land Bill, Union Minister Jairam Ramesh said Rahul Gandhi made three crucial suggestions - there should be one law for land acquisition and rehabilitation, livelihood losers should also be compensated and also the change in the name of the bill.
But will Robert Vadra's land dealings cast a shadow on the Congress's hard sell Land Bill? In an exclusive interview to CNN-IBN's Rupashree Nanda, Ramesh, however, denied any link between the two, he said only time will tell if the law brings in electoral rewards.
Here's an excerpt from the interview:
Rupashree Nanda: My question is why are you giving credit to Rahul Gandhi for it (Land Bill) then? In your note to spokespersons, you are trying to hard sell the Land Bill to people and through it you are also trying to hard sell Rahul Gandhi?
Jairam Ramesh: Rahul Gandhi played a very hands on role. There are specific areas in which Rahul Gandhi has contributed to the bill; Rahul Gandhi was of the idea that we should have one bill, he advocated that, he canvassed for that.
Rupashree Nanda: That idea came from the NAC?
Jairam Ramesh: No - he also - good ideas can have multiple fathers. Paternity cannot be only one. The second good idea which we incorporated in the bill is that not only land owners should get compensation, but livelihood losers also. They should also get priority. And, third in my view is the most significant intervention he made which did not come from the NAC by the way, or from any other source, he changed the title of the bill completely. The original bill as I had to introduce was land Acquisition Bill 2011 and he changed it to Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement. Long title - but it is a title that reflects the rights based approach - the RTI, the Right to Education, Food Security and the Right to Compensation.
Rupashree Nanda: So you believe that the Land Bill has Rahul Gandhi's signature on it?
Jairam Ramesh: 100 per cent ... 100 per cent not just signature but from title downwards, it reflects his philosophy. It is not only his philosophy, it reflects the philosophy of the Congress party. The rights based approach that I talked about of which the RTI, MNREGS, the FRA, the RTE, the Food Security Act and in many ways the Land Acquisition bill can be called the Farmers' Security Act.
Rupashree Nanda: You are taking the bill to the people. When you are going to hardsell the land bill to the aam aadmi and you will speak about Rahul's contribution in this particular law, your critics will point out, as Modi has pointed out already about Robert Vadra's land deals in Haryana - that this could blunt your campaign, that this is something that you have to answer for.
Jairam Ramesh: I don't think there is any linkage between Robert Vadra's so called land dealings and the land acquisition bills. I have just brought a land acquisition bill. As far as Mr Robert Vadra's dealings are concerned, I think the chief minister of Haryana has already responded to it.
Rupashree Nanda: There is a question mark over it- and in that sense when you are politically positioning.
Jairam Ramesh: This interview is on land acquisition not on Robert Vadra's land dealings because if you want to talk about Mr Vadra's land dealings, lets close this interview right now.
Rupashree Nanda: Rahul Gandhi campaigned in UP during the last assembly elections. He went on padayatras, he went to many areas of conflict. But your dividends from that were very low - even in places like Rae Bareli and Amethi what makes you think that this time with this new law, you will be able to win over the voters?
Jairam Ramesh: Time alone will tell.