A section of the leadership of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) is worried that any failure by the BJP-led government to get the land acquisition bill passed in Parliament could reflect badly on Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
After the RSS gave a free hand to Modi’s government, leaders of the ideological parent of the BJP feel its political arm is caught in a precarious position over the amended land bill.
The RSS feels the BJP is “trapped” between the promises it made to the people and the boisterous, nationwide canvassing in support of the new bill which the opposition has tagged as “anti-farmer” and “pro-corporate”. Those at the helm at the saffron group’s headquarters in Nagpur are apprehensive about a setback if the land bill is not passed.
A former member of the RSS’ working committee told Hindustan Times that if the government succeeds in getting the bill passed, it will boost Modi's credibility and acceptability. Conversely, if the government fails, it will badly reflect on the prime minister and his government, the member said.
The RSS leader, who didn't want to be named, said Modi is determined to pass the new bill despite strong opposition, particularly from the Congress and some of the BJP’s allies such the Shiv Sena.
“I personally feel that the government would arrive at a compromise formula to consolidate its allies and other smaller parties by restoring the consent clause of a specified number of land owners to 51% (as against 80% to 70% earlier) if their land is sought to be acquired for private parties,” he said.
A section of RSS leaders, particularly those who work with the Bharatiya Kisan Sangh and Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh, are against the new land bill. Their representatives expressed their displeasure over the amended bill to BJP chief Amit Shah and party organisational secretary Ram Lal on the sidelines of a ‘pratinidhi sabha’ meeting held in Nagpur in March.
They vented their ire during a “group meeting” as they could not raise it in the pratinidhi sabha, and it was then that RSS bigwigs intervened and arranged a separate meeting of these leaders with senior BJP functionaries such as Shah.
The RSS is worried that the government was cornered on the issue of the land acquisition bill and it would affect Modi’s credibility. It also feels Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi’s hard-hitting speech against the bill in parliament on Monday rejuvenated the opposition and particularly a demoralise” Congress.
A senior RSS swayamsevak, who too spoke on condition of to anonymity , said the bill’s fate will have a strong bearing in the upcoming assembly elections in Bihar.
“I am confident that Modi would make the necessary changes in view of the present political situation and adopt the amended bill,” he said.