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Govt braces for stern Upper House test

Govt braces for stern Upper House test
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That government had the numbers became evident when Lok Janshakti Party MP Chirag Paswan said that the issues raised by them have been addressed by the government, signalling that the allies had largely come onboard.

However, the disunity in Opposition benches became apparent when midway through the debate, the Biju Janata Dal (BJD), which has 20 MPs, decided to walk out from the House on the pretext of the removal of consent clause in the Bill. In his address, BJD leader and MP from Cuttack Bhartruhari Mahtab said while there are certain steps, which have been taken by the government, more was needed to be done especially the need to bring back the consent clause.

The strength of treasury benches became evident when amendments by Opposition leaders like Jaiprakash Narayan Yadav of RJD, Saugata Roy of TMC and Deepinder Hooda of Congress among others were defeated by huge margins with treasury benches consistently registering a vote of around 300 and opposition getting just around 100 votes.

Rural Development Minister Birender Singh replying to the debate moved nine amendments to the bill addressing concerns of the party members and allies, which were adopted. However, BJP’s ally Shiv Sena abstained from the voting during division on amendments.

The nine amendments include limiting the industrial corridor to one kilometre on both sides of highways and railway lines, compulsory employment to one member of the affected family of farm labourers, hearing and redressal of grievances at the district levels and acquisition of bare minimum of land.

Replying to the eight-hour debate, the Rural Development Minister said, “Government is ready to accept the suggestions put forward by the opposition if those are in the interest of farmers.” The minister accused opposition Congress of befooling farmers and carrying on misinformation campaign.

The Bill seeks to replace the Ordinance promulgated by the government in December last year. The Ordinance had brought several changes in the earlier legislation passed by the UPA government in 2013. Participating in the debate, Prahalad Singh Patel of the BJP supported the Bill and said it is in the interest of farming community. Opposing the Bill, TMC leader Dinesh Trivedi demanded the Bill be referred to the Standing Committee for further scrutiny.
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