New Delhi, Aug. 28: The Congress leadership is upbeat and eagerly looking up to the passage of the land acquisition and rehabilitation bill in the Lok Sabha tomorrow, unruffled by industry’s blunt disapproval of the food security bill and the bloodbath in the currency market, according to several party MPs.
Sources in the party said the leadership was pinning hopes on the twin pieces of legislation to bolster its electoral prospects and weaken the charge of policy paralysis against the government.
The food bill has armed the party leaders with a talking point and they dismiss the perception of a crisis in the economy and the corporate sentiments as irrelevant.
Several MPs told The Telegraph in informal conversations that they were happy that even Rahul Gandhi was determined to pursue the same path of welfare and service to the poor as decided by his mother and grandparents instead of getting swayed by the “corporate” concerns.
None of them appeared unduly perturbed by the market sentiments but conceded the importance of high growth and reforms.
Asked about the negative perception regarding the food bill, party spokesperson Charan Das Mahant said: “We are people’s representatives, we do politics for the welfare of the masses. We are for strong industry and high growth but businessmen should realise that poverty is the biggest enemy of a nation. Today they are saying the economy is in a bad shape. Did they support food bill when we were growing at 8-9 per cent? Shouldn’t everybody join hands to give the basic minimum — food, education and health — the entire population?”
Das, clarifying this as his personal opinion, said: “We see a trend of disturbance for the last few years because some vested interests in both India and outside expected our leadership to bring food and land bills. We saw continuous disruption of Parliament, Anna Hazare-Arvind Kejriwal campaign, hostile media… and now Yashwant Sinha is saying the only remedy for economic woes is the ouster of this government. Is that a remedy, should the Manmohan Singh government resign because it is investing in the social sector? Should we adopt the Narendra Modi model to please the corporate (sector) and the BJP?” The Congress leadership is alive to the perils of the weakening rupee and the adverse investment climate and has decided to fully back finance minister P. Chidambaram’s revival prescription.
Increase in diesel prices, speeding up stalled projects, quick environmental clearances and passage of pension and insurance bills will get full support from the party in the coming days. But there is no dilemma on implementation of the welfare schemes and senior leaders claim unanimity on the direction in which the party and the government would move in the coming months.
The party feels the negative market conditions are temporary and the mood will change with the turning tide.
Asked about the views of Ratan Tata about leadership deficit and the need for a person who can lead from the front, a senior leader said: “We respect him a lot and he has pointed out that we could not consolidate as a nation as different forces were pulling in different directions. We shouldn’t forget the destructive role of the Opposition in blocking legislation. Industry must remember that the BJP has gone against its grain to oppose the nuclear deal and FDI in retail.”
Senior leaders feel the passage of the land bill will alter the prevailing political reality and the Congress will be in a position to salvage its pride which got dented in recent times because of scams.
The land bill, the party leaders claim, will mark a revolutionary change in the acquisition and rehabilitation processes and will help both industry and farmers, who are at present guided by the archaic 1894 act. The government has moved a large number of amendments to the bill. The Opposition too has moved over 100 amendments.
The government has reached an understanding with the BJP on two key issues relating to an enabling provision for states to introduce a clause allowing lease of land for projects instead of acquisition and compensation.
The Left, Samajwadi Party and Trinamul still have several problems with the bill but the government is confident of its passage.
Although several MPs wanted Rahul Gandhi to lead the charge in the Lok Sabha tomorrow, his participation in the debate has not yet been confirmed by the party.