Several affiliates of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the ideological fount of the ruling BJP, want the government to allocate more funds for social welfare and support local businesses in the budget on February 1.
That would be an ideological departure for an organisation known to be pro-capitalist. But it also probably betrays a sense of unease in the RSS about the impact a contentious ban on high-value banknotes last year might have on next month’s state elections.
The RSS also wants the government to increase support to small and medium manufacturers, who are also seen badly hit by the “demonetisation” move along with workers in the informal sector.
They have asked the Centre to enhance spending on schemes that incentivise farmers and domestic job creators, several leaders of the organisation’s affiliates told Hindustan Times.
Over the past year, RSS affiliates such as the Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh, the Bharatiya Kisan Sangh, Laghu Udyog Bharati and Swadeshi Jagran Manch have locked horns with the BJP-led NDA government over its economic policies.
They criticised the government for opening up key sectors such as defence, civil aviation and pharmaceuticals for Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), expressed concern over the demonetisation drive, and the proposed Goods and Services Tax.
“The budget will be a good time to push for big ticket reforms not just FIIs and FDI. The focus should be on how to develop economy on the basis of our own infrastructure and enterprise,” said Ashwani Mahajan of the Swadeshi Jagran Manch (SJM).
The SJM, seeking a review of India’s existing trade imbalance has been pushing for “self-reliance” in keys sectors of energy, telecom, agriculture and infrastructure.
On his wish list is cutting what he says is dependence on foreign countries particularly China for the import of solar panels and giving a fillip to rural economy by incentivising farmers to grow more pulses and food crops.
The SJM also wants the government to hand-hold local manufacturers. “Schemes such as Make in India and the ease of doing business should mean more help to the domestic entrepreneurs,” Mahajan said.
The trade union arm of the RSS, the BMS, that dubbed the GST as an “anti-consumer” legislation wants the government to allocate more funds for MNREGA and for labour intensive sectors.
“Post demonetisation the small and medium enterprises have been hit and job losses reported across many sectors, there is need to create more avenues for earning, so the allocation for MNREGA must go up,” said Vrijesh Upadhyay of the BMS.
An overall increase in income tax exemption is also on their wish list.