The Bharatiya Janata Party has charged the Congress with adopting “double standards” when talking about land acquisition in States run by other parties and in those run by it.
Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley said the issue was very serious and it had also been highlighted by Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi in Bhatta Parsaul in Uttar Pradesh.
However, in Haryana, where the Congress government is in power, the process for acquiring ‘panchayat’ land of village Ullawas, held collectively by villagers, was begun, then stopped mid-way, reversed, and then the land given “on lease” to the Rajiv Gandhi Charitable Trust.
Mr. Jaitley did not mention the names of trustees, but gave more than broad hints that members of the Gandhi household may be trustees.
The residents of Ullawas have been protesting and the BJP leaders wondered why this issue in the Congress-ruled State had not attracted the attention of Mr. Gandhi.
“We cannot have two different yardsticks: one for Bhatta Parsaul in U.P. and another for Ullawas in Haryana,” Mr. Jaitley commented.
He admitted the need to address the issue of land acquisition in a fair manner keeping in mind the fact that for lakhs, farmland is the only resource they have and the only means of livelihood. “I broadly favour the annuity model in Haryana,” but not what happened in Ullawas, said Mr. Jaitley.
A new bill to deal with this problem has been drafted by the government, he said, without giving his party’s views on the proposed legislation.
Indirectly, he seemed to favour some sort of commonly accepted guidelines and a legislation that would be the result of “all the States putting their heads together.” At the same time, he admitted there has been widespread misuse of provisions for land acquisition by States across the country. Hindu