The Bharatiya Janata Party’s debacle in the Delhi legislative assembly elections has provided an opportunity to Sangh Parivar organisations upset on various counts to rap the Narendra Modi-led government at the Centre and push their agenda.
With opposition parties and non-government organisations upping the ante over the land acquisition ordinance, the Sangh affiliates feel the government cannot afford to ignore them. A section of the BJP, meanwhile, fears the “fringe elements” in the parivar might step up attacks on the government, which might put Sangh-government ties under strain.
The Vishwa Hindu Parishad has claimed a departure from ‘core Hindutva’ ideology led to the rout. The Bharatiya Kisan Sangh and Swadeshi Jagaran Manch believe the land ordinance has sent a wrong message to the electorate, that the government is “anti-poor”.
And, upset with the government’s labour reforms and land ordinance, the Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh is planning a countrywide satyagraha on February 26 at district headquarters, seeking implementation of a 10-point charter of demands. In Delhi, it will organise one at Jantar Mantar.
BKS President Prabhakar Kelkar said, “The land ordinance might have had an impact on the rural electorate of Delhi. This has triggered panic among farmers across the country. If the government fails to read the writing on the wall, the people will teach it a lesson.”
According to Kelkar, the BKS is working among MPs to mount pressure on the government and defeat the Bill in its present form when brought for debate in Parliament. The BKS leadership had written to the government to amend the ordinance to make it pro-farmer.
Sources said after receiving reports that BMS workers in some areas had worked for the Aam Aadmi Party, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh leaders summoned those of the BMS. The BMS is annoyed that government policies are hurting workers in small and medium enterprises, from where most of its members come. “It is an existential crisis for the BMS. The labour law reforms affect the small and medium sector most,” the sources said.
BMS senior Pawan Kumar said, “We are upset with the government’'s labour reforms and land acquisition policies. We are not anti-development; we ask them to talk to stakeholders. Do not take unilateral decisions. Honour your (government’s) commitment in the International Labour Organisation and implement Convention 144 (which mandates tripartite consultations on any change, between government, employer and worker representatives).”
Immediately after the election results were announced, SJM national co-convenor Ashwini Mahajan tweeted: “@narendramodi, @arunjaitley Stop facilitating (industry’s) lust for land.” He told Business Standard, “The government should amend controversial provisions in the land acquisition Bill. The government should not be favouring only industry.”
A former BJP spokesperson said, “The government must rethink the land law as it might snowball into a major issue, with the government on one side and the rest of the country on the other. The issue will play out in Bihar and West Bengal in a big way.”
An RSS watcher, who did not wanted to be named, said the organisation could not digest the fact that the government was being advised by pro-American, free-market intellectuals. “On social issues, the Sangh may be right but on economic policies, it is left. Fissures are likely to appear sooner or later.”
KV Biju, organising secretary of the Swadeshi Andolan, a splinter group of the SJM, said: “The development plank of the government is a farce. We are also planning several agitations on the economic policies of the government.”
Outside the Parivar, P V Rajagopal, chief of Ekta Parishad, said he, along with Gandhian leader Bal Vijay, Magsaysay Award winner Rajendra Singh, former BJP ideologue K N Govindacharya, Arif Muhammad Khan and Swami Agnivesh would march from Palwal in Haryana to Jantar Mantar in Delhi on Friday. They’d be demanding amendment of the land ordinance, passage of the homestead rights Bill and implementation of the Forest Rights Act. Anti-graft activist Anna Hazare is expected to participate in the march. “We want to give a warning to the government. Our fight is for the poor, they are the majority here,” said Rajagopal.
On Saturday, RSS chief Mohanrao Bhagwat held several rounds of discussions with pracharaks and former pracharaks who were appointed coordinators for the election, to understand what went wrong in the campaign.
Image: Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh chief Mohan Bhagwat pledges during an organisational meeting in Kanpur. Photograph: PTI photo