PDP left red-faced as BJP’s opposition leads to land bill being referred to select committee

Pardeep Singh Bali

PDP-led state government had to face an awkward moment in Legislative Assembly when its coalition partner BJP opposed a bill seeking amendment in the Jammu and Kashmir Alienation of Land Act and Transfer of property Act, aimed at preventing transfer of land to non-state subjects.

Following resentment by BJP Members, the government was forced to refer the bill to the Select Committee for further discussion even though the Opposition, including National Conference, Congress, CPI (M) and Independent Er Abdul Rashid, said it will vote in favour of the bill if it was tabled in the House. Bill was sent to Select Committee after Minister for Revenue, Relief & Rehabilitation Basharat Bukhari moved the motion prompting opposition to stage a walkout.

Ruckus started in the Lower House, after BJP Member Ranbir Singh Pathania stated that the bill should be referred to the Select Committee following severe implications of this amendment. Opposition Members were on their feet accusing government of enacting drama over the issue in Assembly. Entire opposition staged walkout after the ruling PDP-BJP sent the land bill to the select committee.

The government decision to send the bill to the select committee evoked sharp criticism from the Opposition with entire bench creating pandemonium over the issue. Former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah criticized the government for having approved the draft by the cabinet and then sending it to the select committee. He said that the government was having a team of inexperienced members in the cabinet who according to him were not aware about implications of bill and had prepared it in ‘haste’.

“This government is having a team of inexperienced people in the cabinet. The Government Administration department prepared the bill and you approved it without discussion. The bill was brought by the cabinet members the bill without knowing its implications. You don’t know how to read and this bill was prepared in haste. None among you except lal Singh has the cabinet experience,” he said. Omar said that land bill has created uneasiness in the BJP camp.

“Soon after approving the Bill , phones started ringing all of sudden and BJP members started asking their ministers whether they knew what was in the bill. The BJP members then identified a para in the bill and thus started a fixed match. They have planned as how two MLAs would demand that this bill be sent to select committee and this what this government is mulling,” he said.

Omar supported by the members of opposition pressed that the bill to be passed by the House saying the majority was in the favour of the bill.  “The selectivity is aimed to sabotage the bill. Democracy suggests that a bill to be passed after getting majority and this bill is supported by the majority. Please allow discussion on the Bill and it it doesn’t gets majority then drop it,” he added.

Responding to the Omar’s claims, Minister for R&B, Abdul Rehman Veeri who said that the government had a wide experience over these issues while adding that this is unacceptable and the comments by Omar Abdullah are insulting,” Veeri said adding he was one of the senior members of the house.

Veeri said that it has been practices from past that such bills are being sent to selective committee. MLA Kulgam, M Y Tarigami, confronted Veeri by saying that the bills were being sent to the select committee after getting support from opposition. “I have a point that the official bills were sent to select committee in past only when Opposition members pressed for it,” he said.

Earlier, BJP MLA, R S Pathania said that the bill should go to the select committee adding it should not be a hush-hush affair. NC lawmaker, Ali Mohammad Sagar followed by the members of his party and Congress supported the bill saying it a good piece of legislation. “It is a good move that such an official bill has been brought in the house and we all support the bill so it should be passes,” he told the house.

Prior to it that Minister for Social Welfare defended the BJP opposition to the Land Bill by saying “we can’t force our view upon anyone else.”

He asked the Opposition not to demean the democracy. “Do not demean the House,” he said. Meanwhile the Opposition’s argument evoked support from the ruling People’s Democratic Party with its MLA Amira Kadal demanding the passing of the bill.

“Majority of house is in favour of the bill and it should be passed. I don’t understand where this government is up to,” he said. Minister for Revenue, Syed Basharat Bukhari said that the bill can be improved if sent to the select committee. “If it is sent to the select committee, the bill can be examined and improvement can be done it,” he said. Later the Speaker directed the bill to the select committee.

The Opposition continued its protest and staged walk out from the House

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