November 22, 2016

India: RSS Gives Ideological Colour to Demonetisation Debate


Sangh Gives Ideological Colour to Demonetisation Debate

Sumit Pande | CNN-News18
First published: November 17, 2016,
New Delhi: Firming up its position on the demonetisation of high value currency notes, the RSS has slowly started to give an ideological spin to the entire debate.
The Sangh deputy Prachar Pramukh (media in-charge) J Nandakumar has dubbed those seeking a rollback of the policy as " Same Award Wapasi gang, same Afzal Guru supporters and Break India brigade" which he accuses of now campaigning for "black market vendors".
Nandakumar tweeted his views quoting a newspaper report about 150 intellectuals including lawyer Prashant Bhushan and economists Prabhat Patnaik writing to the Prime Minister demanding immediate measures to ease hardship, or rollback, or at least suspension of the government decision.
From intolerance to Award Wapasi and Rohith Vemula case, the Indian Right and the liberal Left has engaged in a pitched battle for the mind-space in the last two years.
And linking the demonetisation debate to this string of intermittent skirmishes may lend a certain ideological hue to the debate.
Nandakumar's tweet comes more than a week after the senior RSS leader and Joint General Secretary Dattatreya Hosabole commended the Prime Minister for the "historic move" which he called was a hard blow on black money, counterfeit notes and anti-India acts.
Since then, queues at banks and ATMs have not eased and the government has come under direct attack from the Opposition both inside and outside Parliament.
The government has been firm on the measures announced by the Prime Minister earlier this month as it launched a counter offensive seeking to know from the Opposition which side of the debate it stood in this fight to weed out black money.
BJP leaders have called it "a daring move to end terror funding".
The Opposition during the debate on the issue had also accused the ruling dispensation of giving a nationalistic hue to the campaign.
Congress leader Anand Sharma speaking during the debate in the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday had accused the government of creating an atmosphere "where questioning the government has become a parameter to decide one's nationalism."
The Opposition, pre-empting the line of government defence, has in the last one week shifted goalposts and re-calibrated its strategy. Barring few, no party has asked for a complete rollback of the policy.
The government has been criticized broadly for faulty implementation and leakage to benefit a select few.
Based on ground reports and feedback, there is a feeling in the RSS that the move has by and large evoked a positive response.
There is widespread support for it among the urban middle class, which is BJP's core constituency.
There are some teething problems in semi-urban and rural areas which may ease out if government is able to replace the demonetised currency in the next two to three weeks.
Bhartiya Mazdoor Sangh, RSS-affiliated trade union, says it has received some reports of labourers and workers being used by small and medium scale unit owners for exchanging currency notes from banks.
"This is one of the reasons why one is seeing long queues at banks. There are reports that industrial labour and workers are being used for this purpose by the employers,” says BMS General Secretary Virjesh Upadhyay.
"Some are even depositing money in the back account of their employees or giving twelve month advance salary.
All this will come out when records are scrutinised in due course.
Overall demonetisation is a very positive move and we support it," Upadhyay adds.