Trade, welfare of farmers on RSS wish list
Ensuring better working conditions for contractual workers and farmers, enhanced facilities for irrigation and a re-think on trade agreements are high on the wish list that Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) affiliates are likely to present to the new government after it takes office later this week.
The RSS is the ideological parent of the Bharatiya Janata Party that has stormed back to power by winning 353 seats along with its allies in the Lok Sabha polls.
The RSS wings such as the Swadeshi Jagran Manch (SJM), the Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS) and the Bharatiya Kisan Sangh (BKS) had been critical of the National Democratic government during its last tenure over key policy issues, including relaxation of norms for Foreign Direct Investment, negotiations on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and delay over implementing a wage code.
These groups, however, were seen toning down their displeasure just ahead of the Lok Sabha elections. With the BJP returning to power, they now have a wish-list for the new government.
“We want the government to revisit RCEP negotiations and other trade agreements to ensure that India’s interests are protected. There are upheavals in the trade sector and the United States of America, for instance, is not going by the WTO [World Trade Organisation] rules on tariff and dispute settlement mechanism. The political leadership must be careful that it does not get misled by the bureaucracy in decision making,” said Ashwani Mahajan, national co-convenor of the SJM.
RCEP is a trade agreement between 10 Asean nations and the grouping’s six free-trade pact partners Australia, New Zealand, Japan, China, Korea and India. Negotiations for the agreement are expected to end this year.
The SJM has pointed out that the pact will give nations such as Australia and New Zealand that lead in dairy exports an edge over the Indian dairy sector. It pitched for “Indianisation” of the production sector, also wants to ensure that e-commerce platforms do not adversely impact conventional employment sources and appointments to key positions in institutions such as the Reserve Bank of India, NITI Aayog and other advisory bodies are “carefully vetted”.
With the India Meteorological Department warning that many parts of India may face a dry and torrid summer, the Bharatiya Kisan Sangh, the RSS wing for the farm sector, wants the government to take “immediate steps” to ensure irrigation facilities.
The BMS, the labour arm of the Sangh, wants the government to bring a wage code and a social security act for contractual workers.