New Delhi, Jan 28, 2020-
As February 1 nears when Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will present her second Budget, she has gone through months of deliberations with industry experts, BJP’s economic cell which has held 11 meetings and of course with top bureaucrats at the North Block.
But apart from them, another segment that will exert huge influence on the budgetary allocation on certain sectors are the powerful RSS offshoots who implement the Sangh’s economic vision. Here’s a look at them whose suggestions Sitharaman or for that matter no BJP FM can afford to brazen out.
1. Swadeshi Jagran Manch
Chief: Ashwani Mahajan
Right of centre, this is the main outfit that implements much of Sangh’s economic views and Mahajan is its face. With the country’s economy more tilted towards the “left”, he has objected to many of the BJP’s economic moves and forced the government to go back.
Even when Prime Minister Narendra Modi asserted that protectionism is no less disastrous than terrorism, Mahajan believes protectionism is not necessarily bad. Mahajan’s latest fight was against RCEP, a free trade agreement that eventually forced the opposition to come by his side. Observing an 11-day countrywide protest in October last year, the SJM vigorously lobbied against the move and the government eventually chose not to go ahead with the pact.
The SJM has also objected to China based Huawei Technologies joining the 5G trial in India, citing ‘national security’. It also demanded e-commerce Regulations, following which the Modi government regulated predatory pricing.
Mahajan explained: “We are not against capitalism. But we are against exploitative capitalism where there is no scope for small and medium businesses to thrive.”
2. Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh
Chief: Virjesh Upadhyay
This is a labour wing of the RSS which implements much of Sangh’s economic vision vis- a-vis Athe workers and has “nationalism” at its core. “Industrialise the nation, Nationalise the Labour, Labourise the Industry” is its motto.
On January 8, when major trade unions gave a call for a nationwide protest against the Modi government’s economic and labour policies, the BMS chose to stay away from it. But it is not necessarily pro-BJP but extends its support on case to case.
For instance, the same BMS was up in arms against the draft of the Social Security Code, 2019 brought out by the Modi government. In its submission to Labour Ministry that time, it called the proposed code “totally disappointing for the workers”.
Upadhyay has taken strong stands on both ESI (employee state insurance) and EPS (employee pension scheme) to the NPS (national pension scheme).
Last September, the BMS and Upadhyay also critiqued the centre for “selling the profit-making airports”. They even shot off letters to Prime Minister Modi and Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Puri, opposing the leasing out of the airports. This outburst came after the Central government had decided to lease out six more AAI-run airports to private players.
3. Laghu Udyog Bharati (LUB)
Chief: R.K. Bharadwaj
This Sangh affiliate meant for medium, small and micro industries (MSME)’s clout on government’s economic decision-making can be sensed from the fact that Union Commerce & Railways Minister Piyush Goyal to Minister of State for Heavy Industry Arjun Ram Meghwal were in attendance in one of its conclaves called ‘Udyami Sammelan’, last year in August. The ministers flew down to Nagpur for that conclave, attended by 2,200 industrialists.
As recent as this January, a meeting on Aligarh Defence Industrial Corridor in which this outfit had little or no role to play saw it also invited. The LUB raised the issue of small businesses being ignored in that mega project following which the UP government stated both MSMEs will be given due importance as well as locals for that project — twin demands of the RSS affiliate.
Just a few days ago, the LUB upped the ante against the state government for hiking electricity rate, claiming it will further put the MSME sector in the disadvantage against the large scale industries in the state. On January 28, there is a meeting of the Punjab unit to discuss on how to raise the concern appropriately.
These are not mere organisations but economic representatives of the RSS, BJP’s ideological mentor and sharing and propagating its economic vision, which may or may not be the same with the government. And whenever the government, even if led by the BJP, is not on the same page with them, they criticise, agitate and insinuate.
They don’t fear to criticise Union Ministers. Recently, SJM chief Mahajan hit out at Piyush Goyal, alleging the minister was batting on behalf of Amazon. He also critiqued Niti Ayayog chief Amitabh Kant.
Before Sitharaman walks into the Parliament on February 1 to present the Union Budget, views of these three RSS outfits will surely be taken into account, without a doubt. How much the government listens will depend on the kind of fiscal prudence it wants to show, but giving a complete cold shoulder is hardly an option. (Agency)