RSS affiliates oppose FDI reforms

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A phalanx of RSS affiliated organisations have protested the government’s decision on Monday to open up several sectors of the economy to Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and have demanded that the government enter into talks with them and roll back several of those decisions. On Tuesday, the RSS’ farmers unit, the Bharatiya Kisan Sangh demanded a total roll back of the decision to allow FDI in fisheries and animal husbandry, stating that this “would crowd out the domestic market”.

“The pro-rural budget of the government this year had been appreciated and had raised hopes that the farmer would be looked after. But to allow FDI in these areas is to ensure that the Indian farmer will be crowded out by foreign competition,” said Badri Narayan Choudhary, general secretary of the BKS in a statement. “The decision took us by surprise since the BJP had opposed FDI when the previous UPA government was in power,” he added.

The RSS affiliated trade union, the Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS) was one of the first to put out a statement on Monday opposing the opening up of several sectors to FDI. On Tuesday, the body demanded that the government talk to its representatives on the issue, even asking that “labour mobility” be considered a quid pro quo to monetary investment from other countries. “Neither does the monetary investment come in, nor do foreign companies adhere to our labour laws. We want that just as some countries can invest money, some countries (like India) can invest in the labour that it sends. That should be acknowledged,” said Vrajesh Upadhyaya, general secretary of the BMS.

The Swadeshi Jagran Manch, an RSS affiliated economic policy body, has also opposed the FDI policy. “It takes years for anyone to form a particular view on policy issues, and the government’s policies cannot be allowed to overturn ours. We are certainly going to ask for a dialogue on the issue,” said senior SJM office bearer Ashwini Mahajan.

This second NDA government has been quite adept at managing contradictions if any with RSS-affiliated organisations and their differing views on economic policies and environmental issues. It remains to be seen if the FDI issue will be sorted through the same dialogue process.