New Delhi(dna): Amidst indications that the Modi regime would explore the option of a joint Sitting of both houses of Parliament as a last resort for the passage of the land acqusition bill, there are apprehensions within the government that this is easier said than done.
The government would have to keep in mind two aspects— a comfortable and convincing majority and the Opposition strategy in the Rajya Sabha. A joint sitting can be called only after the bill fails in one House and the Opposition will have to let it be rejected, a Union minister said.
The Opposition may have other plans though. The government's floor managers have got a taste of how the numerically stronger Opposition in the Rajya Sabha could embarrass them. This was reflected in how the Opposition ruled on black money during the motion of thanks. The government is keeping an eye on all possible strategies that the Opposition could consider for stalling the bill's passage or rejection in the Rajya Sabha, sources said.
As Opposition parties compete, the government is likely to have a difficult time getting on board non-Congress, non-Left parties to support the legislation. The government was hoping that parties like the Samajwadi Party, BJD and AIADMK, which run state governments, would warm up to the bill. However, with the Janata Parivar merger, the SP may find it difficult to take a stand which is not in line with its allies — the JD(U) and RJD, which are likely to use the bill to target the BJP ahead of the Bihar elections.
The Samajwadi Party has 15 MPs, the AIADMK 11 and BJD 7 in the Rajya Sabha. Senior ministers have been reaching out to parties as part of an exercise to garner support for the legislation, on which the government and BJP have undertaken a mission to counter the Opposition's anti-bill campaign.
Parties which may not take an unbending stand against the bill are waiting to see if the government will bring in more changes. "We are expecting more amendments to the bill. We want the land owner to be made a share holder in economic activity for which the land is acquired," said BJD's B Mahtab. The government has been arguing that compensation was left to the state government.
Left sources said Opposition parties in the Rajya Sabha could insist on referring the bill to a select committee as in the case of the coal and mining bills.
For the government every vote would count. If the Shiv Sena, which had abstained from voting in Lok Sabha, backs the government, the NDA's numbers add up to 395 in a joint sitting of nearly 760 members. However, according to sources, the government is unlikely to act in haste and may focus on bills like GST and black money before taking up the contentious land bill.
As the budget session is all set to resume, the Congress and BJP are reinforcing the battlelines on the land acquistion bill. A day before his party's farmers' rally, Congress vice-president interacted with farmers from various states to seek their views on the land acquisition bill. This was Gandhi's first public appearance after his two-month long break. The farmers' delegations were from northern states including Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Rajasthan, Punjab and Madhya Pradesh. Accompanied by Rajasthan PCC chief Sachin Pilot, Gandhi met the farmers at his residence. Gandhi will be addressing the rally at Ramlila maidan "Tomorrow's rally would be historic... We want to expose government for the way farmers have been duped only to pay back favours of some people," Pilot said. Meanwhile, the Congress launched a website called "zameenwapsi.com" as part of its agitation against the bill.