The Centre on Thursday said it has plans to introduce bill on Land Acquisition in the next session of Parliament as there appears to be consensus on the issue. However, Home Minister P Chidambaram said law and order in Uttar Pradesh is not a “happy situation” as farmers were protesting in many villages on the land acquisition issue and criticised the way Chief Minister Mayawati was handling the protests by farmers.
But he ruled out sending a central team to assess the situation there in view of recent clashes in Bhatta Parsaul in Greater Noida where two farmers and as many policemen were killed.
“We must have a new land acquisition law. Government has drafted a new act that has provisions for better compensation, rehabilitation and other measures. But it was not possible to build a consensus on the law.
“Consensus building took some time. Now we are at a point when there is a fair degree of certainty that there is a consensus on the law with some amendments,” he told a press conference in New Delhi on Thursday, the first after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh formed a Group of Ministers to brief media to counter the bad press government may face on occasions.
He said it is the government’s intention to introduce a bill in the next session of Parliament and did not rule out bringing an ordinance in this regard.
On the arrest and release of Rahul Gandhi, who spent a day in Bhatta Parsaul on Wednesday, Union Minority Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid attacked Mayawati over the way the protest was handled by the government and police.
“Very clearly whatever he (Rahul) did was entirely right because as a Member of Parliament from Uttar Pradesh and as a leader, he has every right to be there. He just wanted to spend the night there.
“There was no need to interfere with it. As an MP from Uttar Pradesh he has every right to express his concerns for the farmers and now it is more than evident that the people of Uttar Pradesh is extremely unhappy over the manner in which the matter is being dealt with,” he said.
Khurshid said Mayawati is “jittery and losing sleep” over the tremendous support and respect Rahul Gandhi was getting both inside and outside party.
Chidambaram expressed the hope that the Uttar Pradesh government will heed to reason and respond to the “just demands” of the people.
Chidambaram disapproved of the police lathicharge on Congress activists in Lucknow and said the loss of lives in Bhatta Parsaul was “very distressing”.
“It is natural for political parties to espouse the cause of farmers. They have the right to do so,” he said.
Asked whether the government has asked for a Governor’s report on Uttar Pradesh law and order situation he said, “I have not called for a formal report. I am keeping in touch with what is happening there.”
Responding to a comment by Mayawati on Thursday morning that Rahul’s protest was “mean theatre”, Khurshid said in UP, lot of time is wasted on use of certain words in public discourse.
“I hope elegant words are used and no time is wasted,” he said.
To a question whether the District Magistrate of Gautam Budh Nagar shot himself in his foot, Chidambaram said there was no such report.
Asked about the charge that Rahul put his own life at risk by not informing UP government about his protest and such acts were a violation of SPG Act, he said there was no violation of SPG Act.
On the proposed land acquisition bill, he said, “we think we have reached a point where we can say a consensus can be reached on the bill. It is my fair my assessment. Once a final shape is given to the bill, we will brief you.”