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    Published On : Thu, Feb 1st, 2018

    Govt had faced RSS pressure to shift focus to rural economy

    The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the ideological mentor of the BJP, had minced no words to convey to Prime Minister Narendra Modi that it wanted a big shift in focus of the government’s economic policies.

    On Thursday, the RSS and its affiliates seemed satisfied with the Budget which tilted in favour of the rural economy in the midst of an agrarian crisis that has taken a heavy political toll.

    Many RSS leaders shared BJP counterparts’ view that the budget has addressed part of the farm crisis by increasing the minimum support price (or the price at which the government picks up grain from farmers) by 50%.

    In the run-up to the budget exercise, the Sangh had put its leaders on the task of conveying to Modi and other Union ministers about the villages’ situation.

    There were more two sessions in which key BJP ministers and RSS functionaries had exchanged views on the Budget.

    “By announcing a spend of Rs 14 lakh crore on rural infrastructure, the government has conveyed that that this money will, among other outcomes, create jobs for around 10 million people,” a RSS leader said.

    The RSS had also pressed on the Union ministers that education be given top priority.

    The Budget saw the government earmarking Rs 1 lakh crore for the upgradation of educational infrastructure and systems.

    In the first response from a RSS-affiliate, the Swadeshi Jagran Manch said it welcomed “the Union Budget 2018-19, for its focus on the rural economy, employment and welfare of poor.”

    Manch convenor Ashwini Mahanjan said the body has been demanding for long that the farmers be given minimum support price (MSP) not less than cost plus 50%, to make the agricultural activities remunerative for the farmers.

    BJP leaders recalled that RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat did not mince words at his annual Vijayadashami address from Nagpur last year to deliver a strong message to the government on reviving the rural economy.

    Bhagwat had drawn its attention to the needs of the informal economy, which is facing a challenge since demonetisation and the rollout of the GST.

    Without mincing words, Bhagwat had said although some tremors and instability is expected when a clean-up is undertaken, it should be kept in mind that “these informal sectors should feel the minimum heat and ultimately they should get the maximum strength.”

    Apparently unhappy that the political narrative is all about growth figures, Bhagwat had suggested that employment generation should replace Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as a key development indicator.

    As the RSS chief put it then, “the biggest contribution to the economy is made by the small, medium and handicraft industry, retail or small self-employed businesses, cooperative sector and agro and agro-allied sectors.” The Budget 2018 seemed to take care of his concern.

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