PM Modi giving ground in land bill to push through GST?


NEW DELHI: The Narendra Modi government is expected to take a cue from the offer made by several states, which want to enact separate land acquisition laws, and de-prioritize the amendments it has sought to push through an ordinance.

The move is expected to take the pressure off the Centre as it seeks to push through the GST legislation and at the same time address concerns over land acquisition for nearly two-thirds of the country with Karnataka and Tamil Nadu being the major exceptions among the industrial states. Uttar Pradesh, which like several states had skipped the Niti Aayog meeting on Wednesday, will be among the large states that will continue with the 2013 law.

For the past several months, the Congress and several regional parties, including BJP allies, have not backed the amendments proposed by the government and have gone to the extent of describing it as anti-farmer. In the absence of majority in Rajya Sabha, the BJP government has been forced to re-promulgate the ordinance.

But at the meeting chaired by Modi on Wednesday, BJP-ruled Maharashtra emerged as the strongest backer of the Centre’s move as chief minister Devendra Fadnavis pointed out that states had virtually been chained as laws governed by the states had not been exempted, while the Centre had exempted itself from the purview of the new law at least for 13 purposes.

The states, at least the BJP-ruled ones, suggested that the Centre could help them overcome the hurdles created by the new legislation by helping them get presidential assent for their legislations. The move will provide an opening to the Centre to keep its amendments in abeyance and meet the long-standing demand of industry, which after its initial backing has not managed to convince state CMs to push their party high command for backing the amendments.

A section within the government views it as a politically safe option and yet being equally remunerative as the land bill has the potential of accelerating manufacturing activity and infrastructure creation by facilitating land acquisition for new factors, roads and power plants, while creating jobs.

The calculation is that it will help BJP showcase itself as a growth-oriented party and at the same time to push states that don’t enact their own legislation to play catch up in the coming days.


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