Monday, July 18, 2016

Top Left leader says Modi successful in "hoodwinking" people: Land rights meet seeks to minimise PM influence

By Our Representative
A senior CPI-M leader, in Ahmedabad to attend the three-day national convention on land rights, has admitted that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been “successful” in hoodwinking Indian people, adding, “A propaganda master, people still remain under his strong influence.”
Speaking on the closing ceremony of the convention, organized by top Narmada Bachao Andolan leader Medha Patkar and her supporters under the banner of Bhumi Adhikar Andolan (BAA), Hanan Mollah, CPI-M's politburo member and eight-times member of Parliament, asked about 500-odd social and political activists from 15 states to “intensify” the land rights struggle in states.
An all-India apex body of radical farmers' organizations, BAA, said Mollah, was formed to oppose the Modi government's effort to scuttle the Land Acquisition Act (LAA), 2013, especially by dropping the provisions of consent and social impact impact assessment.
While land rights organizations consider LAA, 2013, passed by the previous UPA government, as a “gain” for those attached with land for livelihood, top corporates identify it as a major impediment for quick expansion of industry in India.
“BAA has been successful in ensuring that the amendments, which were thrice promulgated through an ordinance, are dropped. But Modi has now adopted a new tactic: Of not implementing LAA, 2013, even as asking states to promulgate their own laws to undermine it”, Mollah said.
The convention ended after deciding on a six-month action plan on land rights. It would include forming state-level BAA teams, programmes to gherao state assemblies seeking implementation of LAA, 2013, linking the struggle for land rights with workers' struggle and struggle to implement the Forest Rights Act (FRA), 2006.
The programmes planned include representation to the President of India on August 10, two days before Parliament's monsoon session ends, seeking his intervention for implementing LAA, 2013, taking out inter-state padyatra starting from four states – Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Haryana and Assam – in order to “educate” people about land rights, and observing forest rights day on December 15 across India.
The convention saw participation of two political parties, CPI-M and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). While there was a huge talk of forging a unity on land rights, especially around LAA, 2013, promulgated by UPA, the Congress was kept out of the convention. No reason was given.
A six-page resolution (click HERE) passed at the convention called upon delegates to propagate the need to reject the “GDP-based growth model”, as adopted in Gujarat, insisting on stopping forced land acquisition for industrial corridors, smart cities, special economic and manufacturing zones, as also for building dams which lead to displacement of large sections.
Insisting on the need to “empower” local self-government institutions by implementing forest rights Act and Panchayats Extension of Scheduled Areas (PESA) Act, 1996, which require tribal gram sabha consent for land acquisition, the resolution wanted the government to come up with a clear land use policy to “protect” farmland from being diverted to non-agricultural use.
Ashok Shrimali, general secretary, Mines, Minerals and People (MM&P), one of the chief organizers of the convention, said, “For the first time, the land rights movement recognized the need to take under its fold mining activity. The resolution wants governments to declare no-go areas, such as dense forests and climate sensitive regions.”

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