The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and several BJP lawmakers from Uttar Pradesh have warned the party leadership of growing public discontent over the acute cash crunch which they said could harm the party’s prospects in next year’s assembly polls.
The concerns were raised in separate meetings in Lucknow and Delhi on Wednesday amid a raging political battle over the government’s shock decision to recall 1000 and 500-rupee banknotes, a move Prime Minister Narendra Modi says is a war on black money and counterfeit currency.
More than two dozen MPs told BJP chief Amit Shah the demonetisation move could reverse the surge in party’s prospects that was visible after the army’s surgical on terror camps in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir on September 29.
Shah met 36 MPs from Uttar Pradesh in Delhi on Wednesday evening over a dinner hosted by Union home minister Rajnath Singh, also an MP from Lucknow.
“Shah sought our views about the ground situation following the surgical strike, demonetisation and the ongoing Parivartan Yatra of the party,” an MP present in the meeting told HT.
The MPs were concerned about restricted flow of cash, resulting in long queues at ATMs and banks.
Similar concerns were raised at a separate meeting of about 60 industrialists at a seminar organised by Laghu Udyog Bharti, an RSS-affiliated organisation.
Participants said they cannot go cashless overnight and the current situation has given indiscriminate power to authorities, resulting in tax terrorism. This, they argued, was contrary to Modi’s promise of “minimum government, maximum governance”.
They told RSS leaders and junior finance minister Arjun Ram Meghwal the current situation will force them to lay off a large number of employees, leading to a rise in unemployment.
In Lucknow, a meeting of RSS and BJP’s coordination committee went on the same lines.
“The people, particularly villagers, are facing a currency crunch. If the flow of currency does not improve soon, the anger may reflect in the coming assembly election,” a senior RSS leader said.
The feedback by RSS – the ideological fountainhead of the BJP – was based on inputs from swayamsewaks. The RSS volunteers had played a played a crucial role in the BJP storming to power at the Centre in the 2014 general elections.
“The villagers are not very enthusiastic about cashless economy and digitalisation. The common people are anxious about the security of cashless transaction. Spurt in cybercrime has added to their worry. The central government should complete its preparation and gain confidence of the people before going digital,” an RSS leader said.
The RSS leaders also made it clear to the BJP that winning the UP assembly election was crucial if the party wished to return to power at the centre in 2019.
Those who attended the meeting included senior RSS leaders Krishna Gopal and Dattatreya Hosabale and and state BJP chief Keshav Prasad Maurya.