Skip to main content

Congress "lackadaisical": Gujarat farmer body says it failed to oppose new state land acquisition laws

Dholera region, a target of land acquisition in Gujarat
By Our Representative
In a surprise move, the powerful Gujarat farmers' body Jameen Adhikar Aandolan Gujarat (JAAG), has taken strong exception to the main opposition party in the state, Congress, for being completely “lackadaisical in discharging” its “constitutional duty” of standing farmers against the state government latest land acquisition moves.
This is for the first time that JAAG has made such a serious charge against the Congress.
Recently, JAAG emerged as perhaps the most important opponent of the special investment regions (SIRs) being set up across Gujarat, especially “rampant” land acquisition taking place in the garb of SIR by applying the town planning law. JAAG's struggle in North Gujarat two years ago forced he Gujarat government to downsize the SIR in Mandal-Bhechraji region from 46 villages to a mere eight.
More recently, the Gujarat government sought to acquire land for the 900 sq km Dholera SIR in Ahmedabad district, next to the Gulf of Khambhat, by applying the town planning law's provision, which allows the state to corner 50 per cent of farmers' land in the name of building infrastructure. JAAG's intervention has forced the authorities to put off the “backdoor” land acquisition, and stop the decision to remove Dholera SIR from the Narmada canal command area map.
The JAAG-Congress rift is particularly intriguing as it comes in in the wake of Congress' statements for land acquisition moves in the state assembly and outside. It has come against the backdrop of one of the two most important JAAG leaders, Lalji Desai, switching over to the Congress. The other important JAAG leader is Sagar Rabari. There is a distinct view that ever since Desai's exist, JAAG's campaigns against land acquisition have begun to see a lull.
A JAAG statement, forwarded to kafila.org, a left-wing blog site run from Delhi, says, while it condemned the Gujarat government for recent amendments to state land laws, it is “also mindful of the fact that the opposition (in this case the Congress) has a constitutional duty and people’s mandate to raise its voice whenever it perceives the government to be straying from its pro-people orientation.” The statement, interestingly, was not distributed to several of Gujarat's mediapersons.
JAAG's statement underlines, “The opposition Congres has a constitutional duty and people’s mandate to raise its voice whenever it perceives the government to be straying from its pro-people orientation. Sadly, we find the present Congress dispensation to be entirely laidback and lackadaisical in discharging this duty. We condemn the opposition in equal terms in failing to uphold its constitutional duty and in making the voice of the farmer, and the poor heard in the Assembly.”
JAAG's statement says that the Gujarat state assembly passed “controversial amendments” to four existing legislations – the Gujarat Tenancy and Agricultural Lands Act, 1948, te Saurashtra Gharkhed, Tenancy Settlement and Agricultural Lands Ordinance, 1949, the Gujarat Tenancy and Agricultural Lands (Vidarbha Region and Kutch Area) Act, 1958, the Gujarat Agricultural Lands Ceiling Act, 1960.”
“The thrust of all amendments in the four legislations is to make transfer of land to industry and industrialists as easy as possible and at minimum cost to the purchasing industry/industrialist by legalizing any and all (past) illegalities on their part”, the statement says, without specifying how. It adds, “Not only that, pending legal cases are also to be deemed to have lapsed, bringing into question whether the phrase ‘rule of law’ holds meaning any longer.”
The statement says, “While deciding legality/validity or otherwise of questionable transactions, the government official (Collector/Mamlatdar) have been granted arbitrary powers of the highest degree. The government is also, by law, making it mandatory for itself to ‘rescue’ a rogue industrialist who fails in his/her undertaking to put up an industry and to compensate him/her ‘adequately and appropriately’.”
While the statement refuses to point towards what are its objections to the  amendments, and whether they are meant to undermine LAA, 2013, promulgated by the previous UPA government at the Centre, it comes at a time when Niti Ayog vice-chairman Arvind Panagariya, a well-known pro-Narendra Modi economist, has asked states to make their own laws so that LAA, 2013 is set aside.
"Tamil Nadu has a different law law in place since January 5, 2015. It has been almost 7-8 months, very few people knew about it. Tamil Nadu has, in fact, amended the 2013 Act and it applies to their state," Panagariya has said in an interview to CNBC TV18. Calling LAA, 2013 “draconian” as it would take 4-5 years for acquisition for public purpose, he insisted, "Other states could follow the same strategy".
When contacted, Shaktisinh Gohil, a senior Congress leader, told Counterview that the Congress' opposition to the Gujarat amendments clearly suggest why these had been made. “We have made our position very clear. Amendments are meant to allow industrialists to acquire land, which for years has been set aside for scheduled castes, scheduled tribes and other weaker sections. Most of such land was acquired applying the land ceiling law, but never transferred, but now the Gujarat government wants to give it to industry on a platter”, he insisted.
The JAAG statement has been reportedly signed by veteran human rights lawyer Girish Patel, well-known social scientists Achyut Yagnik and Ghanshaym Shah, environmentalists Anand Mazgaonkar, Krishnakant and Rohit Prajapati, trade union activist Ashim Roy, women's rights activists Swati Desai and Trupti Shah, JAAG leader Sagar Rabari, among others.

Comments

TRENDING

Nobel laureates join international figures, seek release of Bhima Koregaon accused activists

Nobel laureates Olga Tokarczuk,  Wole Soyinka Counterview Desk  As many as 57 top international personalities, including Nobel laureates, academics, human rights defenders, lawyers cultural personalities, and members of Parliament of European countries, have urged the Prime Minister and the Chief Justice of India to ensure immediate release of human rights defenders in India “into safe conditions”.

Buddhist shrines massively destroyed by Brahmanical rulers in "pre-Islamic" era: Historian DN Jha's survey

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Russia, China to call the shots in Middle East, as Muslim nations turn into house of cards

By Haider Abbas* Only a naive would buy that the ‘situation of ceasefire’ between the State of Israel and Hamas would continue, as if the foiled attempt to demolish Al Aqsa this time, is not be repeated, if not in any near future then in sometime to come. Israel already has spurned the ‘ceasefire’ by storming Al Aqsa after the Friday prayers on May 21.

Collapse of healthcare system? Why 90% of Covid patients treated at home survived

By Bobby Ramakant, Sandeep Pandey* Well known Hindustani classical singer Padma Vibhu shan Channulal Mishra, chosen as one of the proposers of Narendra Modi in Lok Sabha elections, lost his wife and elder daughter to Covid in private hospitals in Varanasi. Younger daughter has accused Medwin Hospital of charging Rs 1.5 lakh for treatement of her sister and not being able to explain the cause of death. Pandit Channulal Mishra has asked for a probe into his daughter’s death from the Chief Minister. The family has also asked for the CCTV footage of the ward where deceased daughter was admitted for a week.

Modi-led regime 'contributed' 60% to rise of global poverty, yet Hindutva is intact

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak* In recent years, the Hindutva politics has caused long term damage to India and Indians. The so called 56-inch macho PM, the propaganda master manufactures and survives all political crisis including the current mismanagement of the Coronavirus pandemic in India. In spite of deaths and destitutions, the social, cultural, economic and religious base of Hindutva is intact.

Rooted in mistrust? Covid-19’s march into rural India is a very different ball game

By Sudhir Katiyar* As the Covid-19 virus penetrates rural India, the rural communities are responding very differently from their urban counterparts who rushed to the hospitals. The rural communities are avoiding the public health facilities and any mention of the disease. The note argues that this supposedly irrational response is based on a deep-seated mistrust of the state by the rural communities. It can not be resolved with routine Information, Education and Communication (IEC) measures suggested in the Government of India SOP for tackling Covid-19 in rural areas.

Hunger, lack of food security behind India's 'slip' in UN's sustainable development rank

By Dr Gian Singh*  According to a report released by the United Nations on June 6, 2021, India's ranking of achieving Sustainable Development based on the 17 Social Development Goals (SDGs) set by the 193 countries in the 2003 agenda, which was 115th last year, has slipped to 117th position this year. India ranks not only the lowest among the BRICS countries -- Brazil, the Russian Federation, India, China, and South Africa but also below the four South Asian countries -- Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, and Bangladesh.

Courageous, in-depth attempt to confirm common spiritual values of Christ, Buddha

By RB Sreekumar, IPS*  All religions, both theistic and atheistic designed conceptual and practical architecture, for holistic and comprehensive elevation and enlightenment of humanity. PK Vijayan, in his novel “Nirvana of Jesus Christ” (Notion Press, 2020) through creative imagination portrayed personality evolution of the two progenitors of God-centric and sagaciously logical major religions – Jesus Christ of Christianity and Gautama Buddha of Buddhism.

Why hasn't Govt of India responded to US critique of freedom of religion under Modi?

By Fr Cedric Prakash SJ* About two weeks ago, on May 12, 2021, the US Secretary of State Antony J Blinken released in Washington the ‘2020 International Religious Freedom Report.’ This official annual report of the US Government details the status of religious freedom in nearly 200 foreign countries and territories and describes US actions to support religious freedom worldwide. Mandated by the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998, this report highlights the fact that ‘religious freedom is both a core American value and a universal human right’.