NEW DELHI: Workers and supporters of the Congress clashed with the police in Delhi today as the party held a massive protest against the land bill. The police used water cannons to control the protesters, who stormed the barricades, insisting on marching towards Parliament.
The protest was a culmination of the march that started earlier this month from Bhatta-Parsaul in Uttar Pradesh — the flashpoint of the 2011 farmer protests.
The march reached Rajghat this morning, from where the party supporters and Youth Congress members walked for about a 4 km stretch to Parliament Street, via Jantar Mantar, where senior leaders addressed the gathering.
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On the way, they were joined by senior party leaders Ghulam Nabi Azad, Anand Sharma and Ahmed Patel and Randeep Surjewala. Jairam Ramesh, who had flagged off the march at Parsaul, was also present on the occasion.
“We do not want any change to the 2013 land bill,” said Mr Azad, reiterating the party stand.
The Congress, which helped pass the insurance bill in Rajya Sabha, where the government is in minority, has refused to back the land bill.
The party said it can only support the 2013 version of the bill, which was formulated with a broad consensus of all parties, including the BJP. Else, the current version of the bill should be sent to a parliamentary committee, the party had demanded.
On March 10, the bill was passed in Lok Sabha after the government incorporated nine amendments and two clauses to rid the bill of the “anti-farmer” tag. Union minister Birendra Singh said the government was willing to factor in suggestions from opposition parties that were in the interest of farmers.
A failure to pass the bill in the Rajya Sabha will lead to a lapse of the current land ordinance or executive order when the Parliament session ends. The government can re-promulgate the ordinance or convene a rare joint session of Parliament — where his coalition will have a majority on paper — to pass the bill.