New Delhi, Feb 22 : Congress President Rahul Gandhi has asked the chief ministers of Congress-ruled states to revoke amendments made to the Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (LARR) Act, 2013, in order to stop exploitation of farmers, former Union minister Jairam Ramesh said on Friday.
To stop a dilution of the Act, the Congress will take a legal course and start raising the issue in public, he said at an event organised by the Delhi Grameen Samaj here.
"The BJP-led government could not dilute the LARR Act despite bringing ordinances as it did not get support in Parliament.
It asked states to make amendments and the governments of Gujarat, Telangana, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan went ahead with changes to the Act," he said.
"Unfortunately, Karnataka, where the Congress is in power, has also made amendments four days ago."
"Our party President (Gandhi) has written letters to (Rajasthan CM) Ashok Gehlot, (Chhattisgarh CM) Bhupesh Baghel and (Madhya Pradesh CM) Kamal Nath asking them to revoke the amendments made to the LARR Act during the BJP rule," he said.
Land in these states now will be acquired as per the LARR Act 2013, he added.
"I also assure that Karnataka and Punjab governments will also take it back," Ramesh said.
He said the amendments sought by the BJP government remove the clauses necessitating farmers' consent before land acquisition and retrospective application in certain cases as well as the provision for Social Impact Assessment.
"There are many lawyers in Congress who will take up the issue in Supreme Court.
We will fight for you," Ramesh said when farmers asked him about his party's stand on the issue.
The former minister said that he had worked hard to ensure the Act sees the light of the day when he held the Rural Development portfolio under UPA 2.
"There was a need to replace the 1984 law.
My colleagues in the council of ministers were not happy over some provisions. I had to overcome many challenges."
"At least, the Act has brought some awareness. People, whose land is to be acquired for the Jewar airport, are talking about the issue," he said.
Speaking at the event, Swaraj India president and farmers' leader Yogendra Yadav said the 2013 Act provided "little relief" by replacing the British-era law, which treated land-holders as "slaves".
"Farmers' land can still be snatched.
The only difference is that under the 2013 Act, you need their consent."
Coming down heavily on the ruling BJP for making attempts "to weaken the Act", Yadav said the present government was the "most anti-farmer government" of all the governments so far.
Yadav said BJP leaders Sushma Swaraj and Rajnath Singh had demanded an increase in the compensation amount when they were in the opposition.
"However, they are now making sure that farmers are not benefitted," he said.