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Govt U-turn likely on land bill, BJP for changes in Par panel

New Delhi: In clear indications that the government may make a Uturn on the contentious land acquisition law, a Parliamentary committee today approved changes in the Modi government's bill including on the consent clause, that will restore the UPA law.

The way for possible climb down by the government was
facilitated by BJP members moving amendments in the Joint
Committee of Parliament seeking to bring back key provisions
of UPA's land law including on the consent clause and social
impact assessment by dropping the changes brought by Modi
Government in December last year and subsequently revalidated
by Ordinance thrice.

Sources said all the 11 BJP members in the 30member
panel today moved amendments seeking withdrawal of the
terminology "private entity", which was "private company" in
the 2013 law passed during the UPA regime.

Others in the Committee belong to Congress (5), Trinamool
Congress (2), Janata Dal United, Samajwadi Party, BJD, Shiv
Sena, NCP, BSP, TRS, LJP, CPIM and TDP (all one each).

Trinamool Congress members Derek 'O Brien and Kalyan
Banerjee walked out of the meeting stating that the amendments
were circulated this morning and they had little time to

The government appears to have changed its strategy in
view of the fact that assembly elections in the agrarian state
of Bihar are due in a short time and the ruling party may be
averse to being seen as "antifarmer", a charge Opposition had
been making against the BJP.

Apart from Congress, which wanted restoration of UPA's
2013 Act, parties like Left, SP, JDU, BSP, BJD were also
opposing the amendments tooth and nail.

Faultlines in NDA on the Land Bill were also visible with
three of BJP's alliesShiv Sena, SAD and Swabhimani Paksha
redflagging a number of provisions of the bill before the
panel and seeking restoration of the consent and social impact
assessment clauses.

Saffron affiliates including Swadeshi Jagaran Manch,
Bhartiya Kisan Sangh, Bhartiya Mazdoor Sangh and Akhil
Bhartiya Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram have also opposed the bill and
demanded restoration of the consent clause and social impact

Out of 672 representations that were made before the
panel, 670 opposed the amendments being brought by the
government in the land bill particularly changes in consent
clause and social impact survey.

The LARR Act, 2013 stated that if an offence is committed
by the government, the head of the department would be
deemed guilty unless he could show that the offence was
committed without his knowledge, or that he had exercised
due diligence to prevent the commission of the offence.

The NDA bill sought to replace this provision and stated
that if an offence was committed by a government official, he
cannot be prosecuted without the prior sanction of the

With BJP retracting from its previous position, there
is likelihood that the panel headed by BJP MP S S Ahluwalia
will come out with a consensus report by August 7.

"It's as good as our own Act of 2013," a Congress member
of the committee said after the meeting expressing total
agreement with the amendments moved by the ruling BJP.

Out of the total 15 amendments in the NDA bill, nine were
substantial in nature that have been opposed by Congress and a
number of Opposition parties.

Out of these nine six including the provisions dealing
with consent clause, social impact assessment, replacing the
term private company with private entity were discussed today
and a consensus has emerged on them, Congress members claimed.

The LARR Act, 2013 required that the consent of 80 per
cent of land owners is obtained for private projects and that
the consent of 70 per cent of land owners be obtained for PPP

Did not urge UK to give travel docs to Lalit Modi: Sushma

New Delhi: Breaking her silence, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj today said she had not made any request to the British government for issue of travel documents to controversial former IPL chief Lalit Modi and asserted that all allegations against her were "baseless and unfounded".

Swaraj managed to speak a few sentences in the Rajya
Sabha amid sloganshouting by Congress members seeking fixing
of accountability in the Lalitgate and Vyapam scam but could
not complete her statement, as Deputy Chairman P J Kurien
adjourned the House till 1200 hours amidst the din.

Seizing on Kurien's statement that Prime Minister cannot
respond unless a discussion as demanded by Anand Sharma (Cong)
under Rule 267 by suspending the business is initiated, Leader
of the House Arun Jaitley said Swaraj would make a statement
to initiate the debate in the absence of unwillingness of the
Congress leader to initiate it.

Swaraj said she had conveyed on 'day one' through Jaitley
that she was ready to respond to all charges being made
against her.

The allegations of assisting Lalit Modi are "baseless and
unfounded," she said, adding "I did not make any request to
the British government for issue of travel documents to Lalit

She wanted to say more but Kurien adjourned the House
amid vociferous protests from the Congress members, who moved
into the Well the moment Swaraj rose to speak.

The Minister said for two weeks she has been coming to
the House every day in the hope of being able to make a
statement and clarify on the issue.

Earlier, Anand Sharma (Cong) said the House has been in a
stalemate because of the government's "arrogance". "This House
cannot be in order unless issues have been responded by the
Prime Minister on fixing accountability and responsibility."

Government is not serious, he said demanding a response
from the Prime Minister.

Kurien said, "unless you start the discussion, Prime
Minister cannot respond."

This moment was seized upon by Jaitley who said if Sharma
was unwilling to initiate a discussion, Swaraj will make a
statement to start the discussion.

Congress members trooped into the Well of the House
shouting slogans seeking resignations of Swaraj and Rajasthan
Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje in connection with the Lalit
Modi controversy and Madhya Pradesh CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan
in the Vyapam scam.

Govt signs peace accord with NSCN(IM), PM says 'historic'

New Delhi: With an aim of ending insurgency in Nagaland, government today signed an accord with key outfit NSCN(IM) which Prime Minister Narendra Modi described as a "historic" step to usher in peace in the state.

The pact was signed in the presence of the Prime Minister,
Home Minister Rajnath Singh and National Security Adviser Ajit
Doval by the outfit's leader T Muivah and government's
interlocutor R N Ravi at the PM's residence here.

The signing of the pact is the culmination of over 80
rounds of negotiations that spanned 16 years with first
breakthrough in 1997 when ceasefire agreement was sealed.

While the National Socialist Council of Nagaland
(IsaacMuivah) is the biggest Naga rebel group which has been
maintaining the ceasefire, another faction led by S S Khaplang
continues to indulge in violence and was believed to be behind
the deadly attack on army in Manipur in June that left 18
soldiers dead and 18 injured.

It was not immediately clear whether the agreement meets
the main demand of NSCN(IM) for integration of all
Nagainhabited areas in the North East across Manipur,
Arunachal Pradesh and Assam.

Details and execution plan within this framework
agreement will be released shortly, official sources said
after the accord in which Doval played the central role.

Describing the accord as "historic", Modi said, "Today,
we mark not merely the end of a problem, but the beginning of
a new future."

He added, "We will not only try to heal wounds and
resolve problems, but also be your partner as you restore your
pride and prestige."

Muivah said the government and Nagas were entering a
"new relationship" but added that "beginning from now,
challenges will be great."

Before the agreement was signed, Modi spoke to leaders of
various parties including Congress President Sonia Gandhi,
former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Congress' Mallikarjun
Kharge, SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav, BSP's Mayawati, NCP
supremo Sharad Pawar and CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram

He also spoke to West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata
Banerjee, her Tamil Nadu counterpart J Jayalalithaa besides
the Nagaland Governor Padmanabha Acharya and Chief Minister T
R Zeliang. He also called up DMK leader M Karunanidhi and
JD(S) leader H D Deve Gowda.

"Today’s agreement is a shining example of what we can
achieve when we deal with each other in a spirit of equality
and respect, trust and confidence; when we seek to understand
concerns and try to address aspirations; when we leave the
path of dispute and take the high road of dialogue. It is a
lesson and an inspiration in our troubled world," the Prime
Minister said at the signing ceremony.

Terming the sixdecadeold Naga problem as a contribution
of the colonial rule, he said, "it is one of the tragedies of
Independent India that we have lived with this legacy."

He said there were not many like Mahatma Gandhi, "who
loved the Naga people and sensitive to their sentiments. We
have continued to look at each other through the prism of
false perceptions and old prejudices."

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