Govt’s key reform moves face Sangh resistance
The BJP-led central government's bid to pursue reforms for rejuvenating the flagging economy is facing opposition from affiliates of the party's ideological parent, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.
At least three organisations with roots in the RSS – Swadeshi Jagran Manch (SJM), Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS) and Bharatiya Kisan Sangh (BKS) – have opposed field trials of genetically modified crops, proposed labour reforms and likely changes in the land acquisition act. The last two policies are seen as prerequisites to revive growth, something the Modi government is desperately looking for.
"We have learnt from media reports that the government may tweak the consent clause in land acquisition act. This may not be a desirable move. This will lead to a repeat of Singur and Nandigram like disputes," BKS secretary Mohini Mohan Mishra told HT.
But, Mishra is not the only voice of discontent.
BMS zonal organisational secretary Pawan Kumar says media reports about proposed labour reforms are equally distressing. Having called for a strike in BJP-ruled Rajasthan against bifurcation and privatisation of the state transport corporation, BMS is pitching for stringent labour laws to protect the interest of workers.
"We are waiting for details of the proposed modifications. But we will not accept any dilution of workers' rights," Kumar told HT.
The BMS leader is asking for changes in labour laws that envisage hefty penalty on violation of rights and even imprisonment for those who defy the laws frequently.
The SJM, a group championing the cause of swadeshi, is patting itself on the back for having 'successfully stalled' field trials of GM crops.
In a press note on July 29, SJM said that Union minister for environment and forests Prakash Javadekar had assured its leaders that the matter of field trials of GM crops has been put on hold by the government. Javadekar, however, later said that a final decision was yet to be taken.
On July 19, the group had hit out at the government on this issue, saying, "People of India, who have elected BJP to power, are feeling deceived."
"There is so much opposition to GM crops. A Supreme Court committee has sought a 10-year moratorium on field trials and a parliamentary standing committee has also asked for a ban on these crops. We want the government to look into all these issues before taking a final decision," said Ashwani Mahajan, national convenor of SJM.
A senior member of one of these three RSS affiliates said they are in an unusual position, since the pro-growth slant of the government has thrown up many challenges.
"We are in a catch-22 situation. If we do not oppose moves seen as anti-farmer and anti-labour, we face the wrath of out constituency. If we resist, it could turn into an embarrassment for the Prime Minister," he said.