Mumbai: Uddhav Thackeray, chief of the Shiv Sena, has ordered his party’s workers to travel across Maharashtra to inform farmers that the government’s planned land reforms are designed to gyp them.
Sources confirm that Mr Thackeray held a meeting with district level leaders and told them that the party should start the campaign against the land reforms in rural parts of the state.
The Sena is part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s coalition government; it also co-governs Maharashtra with Mr Modi’s party, the BJP. However, before the state election last year, the parties went through a nasty split and reunited after the BJP did not clear a majority.
To mark its protest, the Sena skipped a crucial meeting of law-makers of the Union government this week to discuss the controversial land reforms.
The government says the new proposal balances the rights of farmers with the urgent need to provide land for projects worth hundreds of millions of dollars. The Opposition – and allies of the BJP like the Sena and the Akali Dal – disagree. Since yesterday, thousands of farmers have gathered in Delhi at a massive sit-in led by Gandhian activist Anna Hazare.
The government issued an ordinance in December to exempt projects in defence, rural electrification, rural housing and industrial corridors from provisions of a law enacted by the previous Congress party government that mandated the consent of 80 per cent of affected landowners for any deal. The controversial order also ends the need for companies to conduct a social impact study of such projects, which would involve public hearings and, industry executives fear, drag on for years.
The ordinance is a temporary order and needs the approval of both Houses of Parliament to come into force. It will lapse if Parliament does not ratify it this session.