This Article is From Feb 27, 2015

A 2012 Letter is Proof of Anand Sharma's 'Double Standards' on Land Bill, Says BJP

New Delhi:

Anand Sharma, one of the opposition's top commanders in the fight against the government's proposed land reforms, has been accused by the ruling BJP of "double standards" on the basis of a 2012 letter in which he appears to support the same views he is currently objecting to.

Mr Sharma, who was Commerce Minister in the previous Congress-led government, had written to Manmohan Singh, the prime minister at the time, that the need to take the consent of farmers for land acquisition would seriously hamper infrastructure projects and slow down urbanization.

"Insistence of consent of 80% affected families will seriously delay land acquisition...And in many cases halt essential infrastructure projects," Mr Sharma wrote in the letter dated May 25, 2012.

Attacking his own government's land bill, Mr Sharma had voiced "serious concerns raised by industry." He said the restrictions would have "adverse long term implications" for manufacturing and industrialization and would make land prices high and acquisition impossible.

The letter was held up in Parliament by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley as proof of the Congress leader's hypocrisy. "(In the document)...he says everything I am trying to say. The author of the document is Anand Sharma. The other day you got up and said you are anti-farmer. When these laws were being framed, this is what you said..." Mr Jaitley said.

In his defence, Mr Sharma said he stood by his letter but added that he was trying to protect the interest of national industrial corridors, not private projects. "I would suggest that the finance minister read the document properly," he said.

The Congress leader has been most vocal against a December ordinance by the BJP government amending the land acquisition Act. "The law which was there has been changed arbitrarily against the interest of the farmers, against the interest of the poor," Mr Sharma alleged in an intense exchange with Mr Jaitley in the Rajya Sabha earlier this week.


Full text of Anand Sharma's letter to former PM Manmohan Singh on land acquisition: