Wednesday, January 10, 2007

SEZs: BJP for all-party meet

P.K. Bhardwaj

Displaced farmers should be given stake in projects: Advani


He accuses Left of double-speak on economic issues, including Singur
Wants affected farmers to be given stake in the project or a regular income

L.K. Advani

NEW DELHI: Reiterating its opposition to the acquisition of farmland for
industrial projects, the Bharatiya Janata Party on Monday demanded that
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh convene an all-party meeting on the issue
of special economic zones (SEZs).

"In view of the recent and ongoing developments in West Bengal, I urge
the Prime Minister to call an all-party meeting on this issue," senior
BJP leader L.K. Advani said while addressing the annual general meeting
of the Federation of Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) here.

Describing as "wasted" the period between late 1960s and early 1990s
when the country followed Soviet-influenced model of economic
development, he accused the Communists of double-speak on current
economic issues, citing the row over farmland acquisition at Singur in
West Bengal for a Tata Motors car project.

Mr. Advani termed SEZs enclaves of world-class manufacturing units with
special focus on exports. But the United Progressive Alliance Government
did not exercise necessary precaution in formulating and implementing
the policy.

He insisted that farmers whose land was acquired for industrial use
should be given some kind of stake in the projects or a regular income

However, the former BJP chief, whose party stood staunchly beside its
ally and Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee during her hunger strike
against the Singur land acquisition, praised Ratan Tata for his
accomplishments and Mr. Tata's bid to acquire Corus, a British steel
company, and Laxmi Mittal's Arcelor venture.

Launching an attack on the UPA and its Left allies, Mr. Advani said the
"nature" of the ruling coalition was itself a "big roadblock" in the
country's progress.

Responding to a question from the audience, he said there were several
democracies that allowed their film industries to have censor powers
with them, suggesting that the Indian film industry too should take
initiatives for seeking such controls.

Mr. Advani voiced his party's concerns over security. "We want to have
good relations with our neighbours, but not at the cost of security," he

"Of late, private entrepreneurs have shown a lot of interest in higher
and professional education. Many of the institutions that they have set
up in technology, medicine, management, law and other areas are of
excellent quality. This is of course a welcome trend," he observed
favouring privatisation of higher education.


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