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The Land Ordinance Creates a Paradigm Shift in Congress Strategy

New Delhi, March 17 (G’nY News Service): G’nY correspondent spoke with Shakeel Ahmad Khan, Secretary, All India Congress Committee, on the issue of the 2014 Land Acquisition Ordinance promulgated by the President. Khan and a group of senior Congress leaders undertook a rally on the issue on 16th March 2015.

The senior brass of Congress Party has taken to street on the Land Acquisition Ordinance. You were also part of it. Your comments.

Yes it was a big protest. The Congress Party as whole and the youth associated with us protested against this Ordinance yesterday. And, we were brutally lathi charged, water cannoned and not allowed to carry out our protest. Our youth president was injured and nearly 20 volunteers were also hurt.

Dr Shakeel Ahmad Khan

Shakeel Ahmad Khan, Secretary, All India Congress Committee

What are your major objections to the provisions in the 2014 Ordinance?

You see, when the Bill was passed in the parliament under the UPA government, it was supported by everyone including the BJP. It is plain hypocrisy on their part that immediately after coming to power they changed it through an Ordinance. Taking the Ordinance route itself is not a good practice in a parliamentary democracy. When you have Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha in session, then you should debate on the issue.

Secondly, after long deliberation at every level, when the previous government passed this Bill, the provisions were pro-farmer. In the last 15 to 20 years we have been seeing that a lot of land has been taken away from the farmers without their consent, without giving them anything, without their rights, without proper rehabilitation. This was a cause of concern for everybody and our Party specially, which is why it was deliberated upon and the Bill was passed.

The provisions therein were that if you wanted to establish industry you could not just acquire land. You had to take the consent of the local panchayat where 70 per cent of the people grant their consent. And, if you are not able to establish your industry in five years, then you have to return the land. You also have to give four times the market price to those who are giving up their land. And now the Congress is fighting the hypocrisy of the BJP. We will protest the Land Ordinance tooth and nail at all levels from the panchayat to the national.

The government says that they have incorporated all the suggestions of the Opposition in the nine amendments that are proposed to the present Bill passed by the Lok Sabha. Do you agree?

No they are the greatest liars on this earth. If you have incorporated everything then what is the use of this Ordinance. The old Bill which the UPA passed, had all the provisions.

What is the Opposition’s plan if the government goes ahead with another Ordinance on the Bill, in case it is not passed in Rajya Sabha, since the Ordinance is going to lapse on 5th April 2015?

Firstly, they will have to come to Rajya Sabha, and present it to the Opposition. Even within the BJP there is lack of consensus regarding the provisions in the Ordinance. Further, some of the NDA Allies have already expressed their differences openly. However, we will continue to protest against it in the Rajya Sabha. Even the common man and the farmer, is organizing a protest/movement against the Land Acquisition Ordinance. I do not think that this government will be able to clear this Ordinance.

Has there been a paradigm shift in the way that the Congress is organizing protest?

The Congress’s philosophy is very clear. When we see that the ruling party is not willing to listen to us then the only route left to us is that of protest, whether it is through a march or a petition. These are the methods of protest, and that is what we are doing and nothing else. So there shouldn’t be any complaint. The only thing is that the people are mobilized. So the kind of protest we are doing is a very small beginning. Yes, we will protest. I urge the likeminded people of this country, especially the youth, to come forward and protest. The Ordinance is against those who actually feed us, the farmers of this country.

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