New Delhi: Almost a dozen Chief Ministers, all from opposition parties, will this morning skip a meeting of the NITI Aayog, at which Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to discuss amendments to the government’s controversial land acquisition bill.
- Among those who have RSVPed their regrets are West Bengal’s Mamata Banerjee, Naveen Patnaik from Odisha and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, apart from the chief ministers of nine Congress-ruled states.
- Delhi’s Arvind Kejriwal is attending the meeting. So is Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar, who met Mr Kejriwal in Delhi yesterday.
- Mr Patnaik and Mr Yadav have reportedly pleaded prior engagements, but Mamata Banerjee has written to the PM saying she cannot attend as her party opposes the bill and wants it withdrawn.
- The Samajwadi Party, said sources, believes that there is no need for a meeting on the land bill, since a joint committee of Parliament is already reviewing it. Party chief and Akhilesh’s father Mulayam Singh Yadav would clarify the SP’s stand in Parliament soon, they said.
- The Modi government’s land reforms, which they criticise as “anti-farmer”, brought Opposition parties together in the last session of Parliament. Together they stalled the bill, using their superior numbers in the Rajya Sabha or upper house.
- After days of strident protests, including a Congress-led march that was attended by all opposition parties, the bill was referred to the joint committee of Parliament. There are apprehensions that the committee may not finish its review in time to submit its report in the Monsoon session of Parliament that begins next week.
- By discussing the bill at today’s meeting, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is said to be making another attempt to bring parties on board on the land bill, seen as crucial to his reforms agenda and awaited keenly by the Industry.
- The Congress has said it will only support the 2013 version of the land acquisition bill, which was formulated with a broad consensus of all parties, including the BJP.
- The land acquisition bill aims at making it easier to acquire land for big development and infrastructure projects. The Opposition accuses the government of making changes that will cheat farmers and benefit big corporates.
- The NITI Aayog or rejigged plan panel’s governing council meets today at the PM’s Race Course Road residence. The governing council is made up of all Chief Ministers and Lt. Governors of Union Territories and is headed by the Prime Minister.