NEW DELHI: With opposition mounting campaign over Land Acquisition Bill, Prime Minister Narendra Modi today reached out to farmers, telling them that "lies" are being spread over the measure for "political reasons" to create confusion among the farming community.
Speaking on the issue over radio in his monthly 'Mann ki Baat' programme, he insisted there were some "lacunae" in the Land Act of 2013 "as it was enacted in a hurry" and these are being addressed while protecting the interests of farmers and villages.
Referring to his statement in Parliament, Modi maintained that the government is willing to consider any changes in the bill that would be beneficial for the farmers.
He made a veiled attack on Congress, saying "those projecting themselves as sympathisers of farmers and undertaking protests" had been using a 120-year-old law to acquire farm land for over 60-65 years after Independence and were now targeting his government which is "trying to improve upon the Act of 2013".
During the 30-minute programme, he underlined that the new bill being brought by his government has the same compensation provisions as in the 2013 Act and emphatically rejected that the new measure was aimed at benefiting the corporates.
He also said that 'no consent' provision in the proposed new law applies to acquisitions by government for government or PPP projects and insisted that the same clause exists in the previous Act.
"I am surprised that all kinds of misinformation is spread," he said, focusing on the issue over which his government has come under severe attack and united the opposition parties.
"In the Act of 2013 there were certain lacunae... Our attempt is to address these lacunae to ensure that the law is beneficial for villagers, farmers, their future generations and to ensure they get electricity and water," he said.
"I said in Parliament also that even now if somebody feels that something is still lacking, we are ready to make improvements.
"Our commitment is to ensure benefits for farmers through the Land Acquisition Act..So many lies are being spread..It is my fervent appeal to farmers not to make decisions on the basis of these lies. Don't be misled," he said, adding, "You trust me, I will not betray your trust."
Specifically referring to the consent clause issue, he said misinformation is being spread for "political reasons".