RSS affiliates pan Modi govt budget on multiple counts
While Prime Minister Narendra Modi is praising his government’s budget for devoting attention to all sectors, RSS affiliates, particularly the Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS), has expressed its deep anguish over the exercise.
Critical of Modi’s labour and economic policies, the BMS had hoped the government would use its last budget to soothe the crisis in the labour sector. But far from addressing the concerns, the BMS says finance minister Arun Jaitley in his latest budget has completely neglected the labour sector.
Labour sector ignored
“The budget has completely neglected the labour sector. The sector did not even found (sic.) a mention in the minister’s speech. The labour sector is in crisis because of the policies of successive governments. And we saw no efforts from this government to redress them,” said BMS President CK Saji Narayanan.
The RSS’ labour wing has been vocal in deriding Modi’s economic and labour reforms, and even called the Modi government an extension of the Congress-led UPA.
It has been vehemently opposing the Modi government’s proposed amendment to the Contract Labour Act that allows for contractual hiring in jobs that were considered permanent or perennial.
“While the government did try to put some focus on social sector with some provisions for farmers, but what is unacceptable is the complete neglect of labour.
“Today Anganwadi, ASHA and other scheme workers are the most marginalized section of the workforce. They are technically considered as volunteers and are paid honorarium. But the government has again displayed it’s not bothered by their pitiable condition,” said Narayanan.
Burdening the salaried class
“The budget is disappointing on the other fronts as well. The government gloats about GST collection, but why has it not bothered to extend the benefits it received to the masses. Instead of giving relief to the already burdened salaried class, it has now enhanced the cess on income tax by one percent.
“While choosing to further burden the salaried class, the budget preferred to give relief in corporate tax,” he said pointing to Jaitley’s move to extend the benefit of reduced corporate tax rate of 25% to companies with turnover up to Rs 250 crore from the existing Rs. 50 crore.
The move to hike the Health and Education Cess to 4% on personal income tax vis-à-vis the corporate tax relief also attracted criticism from RSS’s economic wing - the Swadeshi Jagaran Manch (SJM).
“When the government has preferred not to change the IT slab and enhance the Health and Education Cess, then why they have given relief to companies in corporate tax. This is uncalled for, we don’t support it,” said SJM convener Ashwani Mahajan.
He, however praised the budget for giving thrust to social sector and various provisions aimed at employment generation.
“The flagship National Health Protection Scheme with approximately 50 crore beneficiaries is a very welcome step. It will not only help in improving health, generate employment but also will contribute towards fight against poverty.
“We all know how expensive healthcare today is and it is the biggest reason of poverty in rural areas. In that regard, the scheme will play a massive role,” he said
Agrarian focus welcomed
The Bharatiya Kisan Sangh appeared satisfied with the budget, but hoped the government will continue its efforts in addressing the agrarian crisis.
“We are happy with the budget for the fact that the government has displayed its intention to redress farmers’ issues. This budget has sufficient provisions to ensure welfare of farmers for which we have been fighting for.
The decision to keep MSP for all the unannounced crops of kharif at least at one and half times of their production cost as well as the announcing of “Operation Green” are two big steps in that regard,” said BKS organisational secretary Dinesh Kulkarni.
With an allocation of Rs 500 crore, “Operation Green” is aimed at promoting Farmer Producers Organizations (FPOs), agri-logistics, processing facilities, and professional management.
The finance minister also announced upgrading 22,000 existing rural haats into Gramin Agricultural Markets (GrAMs)and setting up an Agri-Market Infrastructure Fund, with a corpus of Rs 2000 crore for developing and upgrading agricultural marketing infrastructure in the 22,000 GrAMs and 585 agricultural produce market committees (APMCs).
The BKS also welcomed the move to extend the facility of Kisan Credit Cards to fisheries and animal husbandry farmers and the restructuring of the National Bamboo Mission with an outlay of Rs 1290 crore.
The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) also appeared critical of the budget.
VHP working international president Pravin Togadia said the budget ought to have changed the IT slab to give relief to the middle class which is reeling under price rise.
“The hike in health and education cess of one per cent will further burden the middle class. This means the government intends to further squeeze the middle class to shower sops on others,” said Togadia.