Discontent in RSS over Centre’s monetisation policy
There is unease among the affiliates of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the ideological fount of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), over the Union government’s decision to announce a monetisation policy, the delay in addressing concerns over high inflation, and New Delhi’s formal engagement with the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, said people aware of the developments.
According to RSS functionaries, the issue of rising prices has been underscored by various affiliates of the Sangh. The Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS), one of the largest labour unions, at its national executive has already passed a resolution against price rise and asked the government to take remedial steps.
“The situation has worsened after Covid. Workers are the most affected by job cuts and wage cuts and there is no control over inflation,” said Binay Kumar Sinha, general secretary of the BMS.
The affiliate that has called for a nationwide protest on September 9 against inflation has also suggested that apart from mentioning the selling price of products, the government should introduce the provision where the cost of production is also mentioned on the label so that people are aware of the profits that companies are making.
“For instance, in the pharma sector, there is no control over how much profits they can make. Similarly, if the government has been talking of one nation, one tax, why not bring petrol under GST to prevent everyday fluctuations that affect the lives of the common man? We have also been demanding that edible oils and other food items should also be brought under the ambit of the Essential Commodities Act to prevent hoarding and black marketing,” Sinha said.
While the BMS will also hold a pan-India protest on the national monetisation pipeline (NMP) on November 2, the Swadeshi Jagran Manch, an RSS affiliate that pushes for indigenous production and opposes privatisation and disinvestment, has also criticised the ₹6-lakh crore NMP programme unveiled by Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman last month.
While the government has defended the plan to raise funds by leasing infrastructure assets of the central government ministries and state-run companies under NMP over four years, from FY 2022 to FY 2025, the SJM has cautioned against letting assets into private hands.
A senior functionary of the SJM said that it is still studying the finer details of the policy and will soon come out with its observations, but it is not in support of any move to give national assets into private hands.
“A quick assessment shows there will be practical problems in the implementation of the monetisation policy since there are so many assets involved. Besides, the government itself claims that the use of technology has cut inefficiencies. For example, after the use of FastTags, revenue losses have been plugged, so where is the need for monetisation if technology can come in handy to plug losses and improve efficiency?” the functionary said.
Sinha said the government should look at alternative revenue generation models. “Corporatisation and monetisation are just juggleries of words, the aim is to privatise industries and we are against it. We have been suggesting alternative models of revenue generation. We have also been saying that the government must look at rationalisation. Use the money for creating jobs and strengthening the sectors,” he said.
The government, for its part, has refuted the charge that the monestisation policy is selling off assets. The finance minister, while speaking at an event in Mumbai on August 25, had said there will be handing back of assets being monetised, and only underutilised brownfield assets will be offered up for better use without any change of ownership.
Apart from the Sangh affiliates, opposition parties such as the Congress had termed the NMP policy “a scandal and a daylight robbery” and said the Union government was planning to sell off the assets created in 70 years of Independence.
On the issue of talks with the Taliban, a senior functionary said though the Sangh has praised the Union government’s efforts in evacuating Hindus and Sikhs from Afghanistan, the idea of engaging with the Taliban has evoked criticism among a section. Earlier this week, the ministry of external affairs said India’s ambassador to Qatar, Deepak Mittal, met with the head of the Taliban’s political office, Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai, following a request from the Taliban. They discussed the safety, security and early return of Indian nationals in Afghanistan, the ministry said.
“The Sangh normally does not interfere in issues related to foreign policy, but we are watching the developments unfold,” the functionary said on condition of anonymity.
In the past, the Sangh has advocated a muscular policy to deal with Pakistan and China and its affiliates have mobilised campaigns to boycott Chinese goods.