Will BJP heed RSS caution on economy?

Will BJP heed RSS caution on economy?
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Will BJP heed RSS caution on economy?

Highlights

Did the RSS just sound a wakeup call for the BJP government on 'good governance'? Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the mentor of the ruling BJP, presented a report card of the country the other day.

Did the RSS just sound a wakeup call for the BJP government on 'good governance'? Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the mentor of the ruling BJP, presented a report card of the country the other day. Dattatreya Hosabale, the RSS general secretary, focussed it on the economic policies of the country thus far to question poverty, unemployment etc., which the Opposition keeps questioning. He minced no words to point out that at least 20 crore people are poor in the country, and gave a report card of the country today in terms of poverty, unemployment and economic disparity – subjects the Opposition cites regularly in its attacks on the government. Hosabale's focus was on the condition of the poor, who, he said, comprise 20 crore people. He blamed the situation on the economic policies of the last several decades. He also said several steps have been taken in the last few years to address this challenge.

Nearly 60 years ago, Dr Ram Manohar Lohia in his speech in the Parliament delivered an enviable command over data and facts to point out the same in the debate now known as 'three annas versus fifteen annas' debate. Dr Lohia disputed the government's assertion that the average daily income of an Indian was 15 annas (one rupee then was 16 annas) and proved that it was in reality just three-and-half-annas or four annas. The planning minister disclosed to the Parliament then that it was in fact seven-and-a-half-annas. The point that Dr Lohia sought to make was not how poor one was to dispute government versions, but that the government had turned a blind eye to the poverty in the country. He questioned the will to eradicate poverty. It was clear from the juggling of statistics that the figures were all wrong because the rural expenditure was shown as Rs 8,700 crore whereas the income was only Rs 6,600 crore including agriculture and livestock.

Hosabale's speech is no different. Only it did not blame the present government directly but said the economic policies for a long time were wrong. He went on to say in his speech at a programme organised by the RSS-affiliate Swadeshi Jagran Manch as part of its "Swabalambi Bharat Abhiyan ( Self-supported India campaign)," that despite many advances, there are still some areas in which the country is facing challenges. In addition, 23 crore more people have an income of less than Rs 275 per day. The labour force survey says we have an unemployment rate of 7.6 per cent in the country.

Will the government look into the aspects that the RSS leaders have pointed out? Lack of jobs, proper education, poor nutrition and shortage of clean drinking water and even environmental issues were all flagged by them. Most importantly, he pointed out "civil strife...is also a reason for poverty... climate change is a reason for poverty. And at places the inefficiency of the government is a reason for poverty," he added quoting the United Nations.

Coming from the RSS leadership, it should be taken up seriously by the government. It should ponder over why this not so veiled caution has been sounded. BJP could ignore the Opposition or its own leaders and experts. But can it afford to do so in the case of the RSS?

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