Countries like Greece, New Zealand, Sri Lanka, Singapore and Denmark have adopted the unicameralism setup in their legislative domains, a practice where only one house/ chamber takes decisions pertaining to lawmaking. In India, the concept of bicameralism subsists, as enshrined in the constitution. At first instance, this appears essential so as not to let the lower house of the parliament take hasty and unapprised decisions, and also the vast and heterogeneous demography calls for wide representation of people in the process of lawmaking. But does this allow the upper house to undertake cunning and imprudent political advantage over the ruling party in the lower house? Makers of Indian constitution considered the British political and legislative setup at the back of their minds while framing this supreme piece of law. But even in the British setup now, the legislations promulgated by the lower house twice in one year are binding on the upper house. Rajya Sabha was always to be a house of shrewd and veteran politicians who can serve the role of a guide; however in the present state of affairs they are not only subsiding their basic duties, but are also suppressing public’s mandate to the party chosen in the Lok Sabha. BJP won 282 seats in the 2014 general elections with 31 per cent vote share, and it is their obligation as well as right to take shrewd decisions and implement them without hassles.
The functioning of both the houses of parliament in the Budget session so far has come with some pluses and many minuses. While the lower house delivered productivity of about 123 per cent owing to extra sitting by our legislators, the upper house could not match this optimum pace and restored to sheer politics, aggression and intrusions. On one hand, PM Narendra Modi cautioned absent MPs, on the other, Rajya Sabha’s mighty parties exhibited lack of professional maturity and infringed the mandate of public that backs their strength in the house. It is promising to note that TMC, SP, BJD and others extended much-needed support to the central government with respect to Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Amendment Bill and the Coal Mines (Special Provisions) Bill; passing of the Bills by both houses will open new venues of commerce and employment. In the wake of such competence from the upper house, dominated by Congress and regional political parties, row over the Land Acquisition Bill was uncalled for and completely in contrast with the awaited industrial evolution of the country.
Let us see if at all the revisions proposed by the BJP to the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act are anti-farmers and pro-industrialists. The amendments favor ‘no consent’ from stakeholders, but do not overlook the underlying benefits in these special cases which range from defense and national security to affordable housing for underprivileged and village electrification. There exists a fundamental dream of housing for all by 2022, and if you believe that the same will be possible without land acquisition, you need extensive lessons on fiscal administration and policy implementation. The UPA’s concerned land legislation of 2013 identified tenant farmers and landless workers as stakeholders under the Social Impact Assessment, and made it rather impossible for sincere development projects to obtain necessary sanctions. Shall I not remind you that the bulldozers and cranes Congress is talking about as the killers of farmers will only result in infrastructure growth, employment for world’s largest inhabited youth population and extension of basis amenities like roads, power and sanitation to the rural parts of India?
Madhya Pradesh has seen a number of natural calamities in past years, at times when the UPA was in-charge of nation’s furtherance, as being the party with majority in the parliament. Flood and droughts have hit almost the entire of North India as well as other parts, but this is one of those rare occasions that Congress is anxious, moved and highly restless for the loss of Indian farmers. The president of the party is to visit the state of MP where unseasonal rain has hit the produce of farmers; however they had no such compassion for agriculturists while in power at the center. Congress, communist parties, TMC and others have found a trump card in their hands in the form of proposed Land Acquisition Bill of the BJP-led government; they feel that the lost ground could be gained back by sympathizing and crying over farmers’ alleged loss, causing severe blow to the economic lead India is on the verge to take. A march from Sansad Bhawan to the Rashtrapati Bhawan, where the largest opposition party collaborated with other groups was nothing more than a way to advertise false commitment towards Indian farmers who gained nothing apart from debts and suicides in decades of Congress reign.
The Ordinance of the BJP government that furthers the real interest of the farmers’ community will lapse on the 4th of April and a candid leader, Narendra Modi, was left with no other choice than to re-promulgate the ordinance with the nine amendments passed by the Lok Sabha. And then, even if after efforts to form consensus over new ordinance with opposition parties, the conclusion is detrimental, a joint session of both the houses would do the needful, a notion which is in the constitution as I believe that the makers of this binding supreme law knew about the communal divide of India which would give birth to unworthy political leaders, and hence dimness of ruling party in the upper house wouldn’t let growth agendas prosper. A Bill that aims at consolidating separate labors of the government, Indian industry and general public by exempting five categories from requiring consent of land owners has to be accorded the right to become a binding legislation, in the interest of farmers, job-seekers, commerce and the nation at large. The Bill also carries upright provisions for guarantee of employment to one member of the affected family due to acquisition of land and power to the judiciary to take cognizance of officials committing mistakes.
To the sadness of Indian legislature, since more than two decades, the political party with majority in the Lok Sabha has always struggled for backing in the Rajya Sabha, a weird and unfavorable situation that has only accorded power to illicit politicians, and has made it practically unmanageable for governments to bring pro-growth legislations. In the past, we have seen ruling parties showering opposition leaders in Rajya Sabha with perks like immunity from CBI probe, bungalows in Delhi’s elite localities and their inclusion in the cabinet. For PM Modi, it is time to rise above these tactics and pave way for prolific legislations by employing astute and honest deeds. For the members of the Rajya Sabha, it is a pure misconduct and misuse of their offices if works of government chosen by the public at large are hampered just for pity political paybacks.
Writers, and independent analysts and advisors do warn of imprudent decisions taken by governments, which ought to be paid heed to. I, in my article, ‘New Land Acquisition Law- Merits and Concerns’ dated 15th April 2014, pointed out flaws in the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013. Hereunder is a brief transcript.
“The new government that will be looked upon as the driving force for infrastructural development will have to face the challenges brought in by this new piece of legislation. The real intention of urbanization and industrialization can thus remain unachieved.
The upcoming union government would be clueless to manage something that has promised too much for land owners who would now resist to any modifications, with hindrance to the much-needed infrastructural and economic growth.”