The outlook for the controversial land acquisition bill is now even more uncertain after the joint parliamentary committee (JPC) looking into it deferred confabulations until the last week of the month-long winter session of Parliament.

The uncertainty is that much more since the National Democratic Alliance government did not repromulgate the ordinance, first issued on 29 December 2014 and reissued thrice thereafter, the last time on 31 May.

The winter session is scheduled to commence on 26 November and will continue until 23 December.

During a meeting of the 30-member parliamentary committee on Monday, some members raised questions to the secretary of the rural development ministry about the bill’s future.

“The meeting was deferred till the last week of the winter session. It means the JPC will not be able to submit its report in the first week of the winter session as scheduled. The JPC was supposed to submit its report, but now the deadline will be missed," said one person in the know of the development who did not want to be identified.

Members of the committee, especially Trinamool Congress MPs, raised questions about the future of the bill because the government is no longer pursuing it and has not reissued it.

“It seems the government is no longer interested in the bill or the report of the JPC. It is for this reason that the rural development ministry had not replied to all the questions asked by the committee. The government will still have to withdraw the bill from Parliament and it will have to inform Parliament and the JPC about it," said the person cited above.

The Bharatiya Janata Party-led NDA government has faced severe criticism on the land acquisition bill from its own allies, especially the Shiv Sena, Republican Party of India (Athawale) and the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD).

While the Shiv Sena and RPI(A) had made it clear that they will vote against the bill if it comes to vote, SAD leaders had categorically told the government not to move forward on the bill because there was an impression that farmers will lose their land because of this bill.

“We are very certain that the government has to change this perception that farmers will be at a loss because of this bill. If this perception is not changed, there is no reason why the government should move forward," said a senior SAD leader on condition of anonymity.

A political analyst said the government has no option but to defer the land acquisition bill because the opposition parties and some of its own alliance partners are united against it.

“It is the most obvious thing to do given the kind of opposition to the controversial bill. The government cannot go forward, so it will only try to delay it," said Bidyut Chakrabarty, a political analyst and political science professor at Delhi University.

“Even if this bill gets passed in the Lok Sabha, there is no way it will pass in the Rajya Sabha. If this bill gets defeated in the Rajya Sabha, it will be a major embarrassment for the Narendra Modi government," he added.

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