Poor Should Get Benefits of Land Acquisition: Rahul

Kolkata, Sep 16 (IANS): Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi Thursday said the benefits of land acquisition should go to the poor, adding that the differences with the Trinamool Congress on a proposed legislation was only on how much land the government should acquire.

"I have soft corner for all the Indians. But there are some Indians who don't share the same benefits as other Indians do. Among them you can include tribals, Dalits and poor people of India," Gandhi said at a media conference here.

"I favour all those who don't get the benefits. What we want is that the benefits of land acquisition should also go to the poor," he asserted on the concluding day of his three-day trip to West Bengal to revive the party ahead of next year's assembly polls.

He favoured the Haryana model of land acquisition. "Haryana has a policy, which is quite a powerful policy, where all the people share the benefits."

Gandhi had earlier met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh over demands of farmers from Uttar Pradesh concerning acquisition of their land by the Mayawati government for an expressway and townships along it.

"We can't allow the transfer of land from poor to rich, without the benefits also going to the poor," he said.

"You need to acquire land for development work such as roads, infrastructure and development but we should be fair to the poor. Then the poor people will respond to it as in Haryana," he added.

Referring to the land acquisition amendment bill which has been held up following resistance from Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee, Gandhi said the differences were not related to the entire legislation.

"It is not true that she is opposing all the sections of the land acquisition bill. The difference is limited to only one point, that is how much land the government will acquire," he said.

"Will that be 70 percent, 80 percent or 90 percent - that is where the difference is. Otherwise the general view is the same," he added.

Referring to his support to tribals protesting against the acquisition of land for aluminium mining in Niyamgiri of Orissa, Gandhi said: "What was happening was illegal. Corporate bigwigs had taken land from the tribals forcibly, without even bothering to ask them. Signatures of the panchayats were needed, but that too was not taken."

"It was illegal, wrong and criminal," he added.

Gandhi also lashed out at the Mayawati government for taking land from farmers at cheap rates. "Land was being taken at Rs.400 per metre and was being sold to rich people at Rs.1000 a metre," he said.



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