Why RSS and its affiliates are disenchanted with Modi and his economic policies
The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the ideological fountainhead of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), is growing restless over the economic policies of the Narendra Modi government. There are murmurs of division within the RSS: while a section still back the Prime Minister, the other predicts electoral doom in 2019 under his leadership.
The situation has reached a tipping point with some RSS affiliates chosing an all-out offensive against the Modi government's handling of the economy. According to sources, such organisations have the backing of RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat, who is said to have asked them to act in accordance with the feedback from grassroots workers.
Promises and lies
The Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS), the Sangh's labour wing, has planned a public rally at Ramlila Maidan in Delhi on 17 November. India's largest central trade union is gearing up for a headcount of 5 lakh people there to protest the “failed promises of the Modi government”.
Before that, on 29 October, the Swadeshi Jagran Manch (SJM) will hold a rally in the Capital over a long-standing demand of banning the sale of Chinese products. The platform will also be used to highlight the plight of small and medium enterprises that have taken quite a hit because of hastily implemented demonetisation and Goods and Services Taxes (GST).
Interestingly, many other farmers' and traders' body who have been particularly critical of the government have also been invited by SJM to participate in the rally. This suggests that the issues like farmer protests and concerns of traders too are likely to be raised from the platform.
“The BMS rally is being organised in wake of the prevailing economic distress that the country is witnessing. Though the government claims that there is growth but we believe it is a jobless growth. The Modi government has failed to create any jobs,” said Pawan Kumar, organising secretary of the BMS.
According to Kumar, the Modi government is working on the principles of its predecessor the UPA government and is promoting the policy of liberalisation, privatisation and globalisation. “We watch our constituency which is labour and by not protesting I am cheating my constituency. They are snatching the rights of the workers and SJM can't be a silent spectator to all this,” said Kumar.
Cheating the country
BMS has made a list of 17 demands for its 17 November rally and these include implementation of minimum wages, equal wages for equal works, end all forms of contract labour, labour and farmer representation in Niti Aayog, stop curtailing workers rights in the name of labour law reforms, among others.
Interestingly, BMS has also put forward a demand of 200 days of work under the MGNREGS and has gone to the extent of calling it one of the most successful and progressive scheme for creating unemployment.
When asked how the ruling dispensation has been extremely critical of the scheme, Kumar said, “There is corruption in railways, banking and several other sectors. Does it mean that we close them all?”
Further, he went on to criticise the Modi government for not allocating sufficient fund for MGREGS and complained how labourers across the country are feeling cheated.
“They have granted Rs 48,000 crore under the scheme out of which 40% would go for procuring material and rest for labour. This means that only Rs 30,000 crore are left for wages and considering the fact that nearly 12 crore people are registered under the scheme and minimum wages are currently at around Rs 167. If 12 crore people need 100 days of work, do you think this will be enough. Let people do the math,” he added.
BMS has also been very critical of the two new policies of the government which include mandatory license for small kiosks selling paan and cigarettes and maintaining minimum balance in bank accounts. “These are all anti-labour policies and BMS is ready to fight this government over them. We request the government to deliver or else these protests would only intensify,” warned Kumar.
Meanwhile, Catch had reported earlier about how several organisations representing farmers and workers had announced a three-day protest in Delhi during the second week of November which coincides with the Winter Session of the Parliament. These widespread protests, including those from RSS affiliates, suggest that the rural sector has become disillusioned with the grand promises that Modi made in the run up to 2014 elections.
In light of these developments, sources claim that RSS too is worried with Modi's diminishing popularity and how he has failed to live up to the expectations of people. Also, RSS' top bosses believe that just by “bombarding media and social media” is not enough and that the government is far removed from the harsh realities on the ground.
“There is a huge difference between creating a bubble of one's own popularity and ground reality. Be it the common man or Sangh pracharak, everyone knows that market and rural distress is a reality and if this is not addressed at the earliest, this could well be Modi's India Shining moment,” said a RSS leader, on the request of anonymity.
Moreover, RSS leaders are also troubled and angry with the fact that the government has failed to address certain issues which have been consistently raised by them. One among them are the suggestions on education sector which have not turned into policies in the last three years.
In fact, sources informed that Bhagwat has asked organisations working on education sector to wait till the end of the year after which they too would have the liberty to openly criticise the government.
RSS is also disturbed that there have been no developments on their longstanding demand of letting Hindus return to Kashmir.
So, the bottom line is that not only the common man, even the RSS is feeling helpless under the ruling dispensation. And just like the common man, even the Sangh has started thinking about who could replace Modi if he fails to deliver.