In the past, over 20 years, ever since the economic liberalisation process began, the political
discourse had turned away from rural issues to the urban and middle class concerns. The
political parties have increasingly realised the importance of middle class as a vote bank and
even in elections one could see the efforts to woo them. Many people had felt that due to
this shift rural and farmer related issues had taken a back seat. Meanwhile in the last few
years great efforts have been put in to bring in the new land rehabilitation law. UPA
government in 2013 had brought this law with consensus. The new government which has
proposed some amendments has sought to break the consensus.
Some experts say that politicisation of the issue is going to hurt the farmers’ cause rather
than helping them. This land issue has brought all the opposition together. The land
acquisition act of 1894 was created with the purpose of facilitating acquisition by the
government of privately held land for public purposes. Under the colonial LAA, private
interest, rather than public purpose, dictated the land acquisition process. People affected by
land acquisition received a pittance by way of compensation.
Opposition parties in the parliament are opposing the Land Acquisition Bill in the present
form and are demanding some changes. They say that the bill is Anti farmer. Coming under
such huge pressure, the government had brought in some changes. But the stalemate over
the issue still continues. The methodology that is being used to bring in the changes is also
The opposition has also alleged that the government has killed the spirit of the original Bill by
doing away with the provision of seeking a social impact assessment and the requirement to
get the prior consent of 70% of land owners before the acquisition of agricultural land. The
new bill aims to relax some of the provisions in the Right to Fair Compensation and
Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013 passed by the
previous Congress-led UPA.