India Must Build Consensus On Land Reform Quickly, Says Arun Jaitley

15/07/2015 3:42 PM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:25 AM IST
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Arun Jaitley, Minister of Finance, Corporate Affairs and Defence of India at the World Economic Forum - India Economic Summit 2014 in New Delhi, Copyright by World Economic Forum / Benedikt von Loebell

NEW DELHI - The government said on Wednesday a consensus was needed quickly to pass a business-friendly land reform law, or else a legislative deadlock would have to be broken by allowing states to pass their own measures.

"Either the centre must build a coalition and pass the land bill quickly, or give the flexibility to the states to pass their own laws," Finance Minister Arun Jaitley told a news conference.

He spoke after Prime Minister Narendra Modi chaired a meeting with leaders of India's states. Only 16 of 29 chief ministers attended the talks, with Jaitley accusing some from opposition parties of a "boycott".

Modi has been unable to pass amendments that make it easier for government and business to forcibly buy land for development, because he lacks a majority in the upper house of parliament. The bill is a key element of his economic agenda.

The opposition Congress party, which lost a 2014 general election to Modi, opposes the changes, which it denounces as anti-farmer. Another fight over the land bill looms at parliament's monsoon session which is due to begin next week.

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