Govt holds meeting with RSS-affiliated bodies 


New Delhi: In what is thought to be the first such coordination move, at least five ministers from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led government have held a meeting with representatives of several organizations affiliated with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), and agreed to continue to meet periodically to ensure there is no friction between the government and the ruling party’s ideological mentor. Senior leaders of the BJP, however, say there has been no such initiative in the states that are ruled by the BJP. “We welcome the move of the government. It will ensure better coordination and understanding between the organizations and government.

This move will lessen the friction between the government and these organizations because there will be exchange of ideas and we will try to understand the concerns of each other,” said Virjesh Upadhyay, general secretary of the Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS) trade union, who was present at the meeting. Among the RSS-affiliated organizations that were called to the coordination meeting on Tuesday were the BMS, Swadeshi Jagran Manch (SJM, the economic unit), Laghu Udyog Bharati (small scale industries), Bharatiya Kisan Sangh (BKS, farmers’ union) and Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram (which works with tribals). The Union ministers present at the meeting were Piyush Goyal (power, coal and renewable energy), Radha Mohan Singh (agriculture), Prakash Javadekar (environment), Narendra Singh Tomar (labour) and Sanjeev Balyan (minister of state for agriculture). “It has been decided that similar meetings will be held periodically. The date for the next meeting will be decided later after consultations with government and all the other organizations. The frequency of the meeting has not been decided yet,” said another senior leader who was present at the two-hour-long meeting. The five RSS-affiliated organizations gave the government feedback on issues related to price rise and power, raised concerns on foreign direct investment (FDI) in insurance and defence, and called for regularization of contract workers and anganwadi workers.

The RSS affiliates are also against moves to allow field trials of genetically modified crops. The meeting is also significant because tensions have been brewing between Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government and RSS-affiliated trade unions and organizations. These organizations had organized a nationwide stir against the government’s recent decision to open up the railways to FDI and raise the cap on FDI in insurance and defence. The BMS invited around 700 people from various other central trade unions for a conference in Delhi in September this year to protest against the decisions of the BJP-led government. The SJM, BMS and BKS had also demanded that the government should come out with a white paper on all these issues, setting out its position.

The organizations demanded that there must be a concerted debate across the country before the government takes any further steps in these areas. Political analysts believe that the government is trying to ensure that there is synergy between all the affiliated organizations of the RSS and all stakeholders are taken into confidence while taking decisions. “This move is to ensure that government is able to take tough decisions and the decisions of the government are well received on the ground. This is an effort to brief and socialize the stakeholders to the ideas of the government,” said Jai Mrug, a Mumbai-based political analyst.