Joint session could be called if no consensus on land bill: Arun Jaitley
Stanford (California): Finance Minister Arun Jaitley today said if the land reform bill is not passed in the Rajya Sabha then a joint session of the Parliament would be called as its passage is key to the success of next phase of reforms and achieving India's growth target.
"I hope, we do not have to reach that situation (of convening a joint session of the Parliament) and it gets sorted out before that. The present government as far as the constitutional mechanism is concerned has the numbers. Therefore, we would like to make sure that this landmark reform in India does take place," Jaitley said.
Refraining from giving a time line for convening a joint session of the Parliament, Jaitley exuded hope that the land reforms bill in its new shape would be able to get through the Rajya Sabha, where the ruling party and its coalition partners do not have a majority.
However, he pointed out that the BJP and its coalition partners have enough numbers to get the bill passed if there is a joint session of the Indian Parliament.
"We would like to ensure that this landmark reform in India does take place," Jaitley said in his presentation on 'India's Economic Future' organised by the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.
"The land law which was approved in 2013, in my view, has hindered the complete development of rural India. Almost 55 per cent of India is rural India," he said.
Jaitley asserted that the 2013 law does not provide for adding irrigation, rural infrastructure, easy availability of land for affordable housing for poor and also even industrialisation in rural areas.
"This has become politically very contentious. It is currently before the Joint Select Committee. I am keeping my fingers crossed as to how this debate would proceed. But I do hope that the Joint Select Committee comes out with some agreed formulation, otherwise if consensus eludes us -- both house choose to disagree with each other -- then a joint session of the houses will take it up," he said.
Jaitley said the government is committed to continuing with reforms.
"We finished the first year, a somewhat a significant but modest change by Indian standards," he said adding that the basic parameter to put the House in order has been set.
Noting that India's appetite for reforms has increased, he said at the end of the day very few moves get blocked and at the most they get delayed.
"This seems to be the maturity of Indian politics," he said.
Most areas of the Indian economy have opened up, he said adding that foreign investment is now considered as an additional resource.