Wednesday, August 29, 2007

AP : Reddy rebuffs Left, says no to land commission

29 Aug, 2007, 1029 hrs IST, PTI

HYDERABAD: In a rebuff to the Left parties agitating for land distribution, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y S Rajasekhara Reddy has firmly ruled out constitution of an independent commission as demanded by them, a decision that could escalate the stand-off with the estranged allies.

Reddy, however felt that Congress-Left relations have not reached a breaking point in the state in the face of intensifying land agitation by CPI and CPM.

"It, (constitution of the commission) cannot be done. No commission can be independent of the assembly. In a democracy, government is answerable to the people through the assembly," he said here.

"Under what law?" Reddy snapped when asked about the Left's insistence on an autonomous commission to oversee distribution of land to the poor.

Disagreeing with the assessment that the Congress-Left ties were breaking he said, "In politics there is no such thing as breaking point. On some issues, we may agree and on others we may come together. Only at the time of elections, the issue of coming together or otherwise will arise."

To a specific query, he said, "it is ruled out".

While ruling out independent commission with quasi-judicial powers, the chief minister said a high-level committee headed by him was being planned to go into the entire gamut of land related issues.

The Revenue Minister would be the co-chairman of the panel which will have senior officials as members.

Reddy made it clear that there would be no room for "outside experts". The committee would periodically review the status of land distribution.

The structure of the proposed commission has become a bone of contention between the Congress government and Left parties, spearheading the "Bhooporatam" (land agitation) for the last three months that had often turned violent.

The Chief Minister spoke at length on various issues including the souring ties with the Left, anti-incumbency and charges of corruption against his government, the Telangana statehood demand, the Naxal issue and speculation about mid-term polls.

While taking a firm stand on the land issue, Reddy struck a conciliatory note on continuing alliance with the Left parties, saying secularism was their common agenda.

"Even on lands issue, our ideology is one and the same. Though we have differences in the approach, the ultimate goal is to benefit the poor," he said.

Though the Congress and Left parties had fought the 2004 elections together, the CPI(M) has since gravitated towards the main opposition TDP and CPI has also stepped up its offensive against the government on a plethora of issues.

Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS), another pre-poll ally, has already walked out of the UPA.

Asked whether it would still be possible to revive the alliance before the 2009 polls, the Chief Minister said "Let's see. We will cross the bridge as and when it comes".

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