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Congress assures smooth functioning; no softening on land ordinance

Congress assures smooth functioning; no softening on land ordinance

New Delhi: Anticipating a stormy session in view of six ordinances that await parliament's nod, the Narendra Modi government Sunday reached out to Congress for the first time in its nine-month rule but the opposition party, while assuring smooth functioning, said it had not changed its stand on the land ordinance.

As Parliamentary Affairs Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu called on party president Sonia Gandhi ahead of an all-party meeting Sunday, she assured the government of cooperation but raised concern over the Land Acquisition Ordinance.

Describing the meeting as cordial, Naidu said the opposition has every right to raise objections and "we (the government) respect that".

However, for the controversy over the land ordinance, he said the issue needed to be addressed "sincerely" sans politics.

"We are aware that land acquisition is an emotive issue as it concerns farmers. We need to address this issue sincerely without undue politicisation," Naidu told the media here.

"I told her (Gandhi) the ordinance was brought after enough consultation with all states and stakeholders," he added.

However, the party said there was no "softening" of its stand on the ordinances passed by the Modi government bypassing parliament.

"There is no questioning of softening the stance when it comes to the land acquisition bill, and also on the coal ordinance," Congress leader Anand Sharma told news channel CNN-IBN.

"This government has shown utter disrespect to Indian parliament by embarking on the ordinance route. Any new law brought in by the government... has to go through parliamentary scrutiny. By taking the ordinance route, they (the government) are bypassing parliament's scrutiny," he added.

Describing the land ordinance as "anti-farmer", the Congress had earlier strongly condemned the temporary legislation approved by the cabinet to amend the land acquisition law.

The party maintained that the ordinance would weaken the Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act - passed by the Congress-led UPA in 2013 - for its basic tenets that stood diluted now.

In effect, the ordinance removes the consent clause and the social impact assessment that were incorporated in the 2013 act as a crucial provision to improve the archaic Land Acquisition Act of 1894.

Referring to the controversial ordinance, Sharma said: "It takes away all the safeguards and opens the floodgates for the acquisition of farmer's land for private sector."

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