MODI’S DILEMMA, BALANCING SANGH’S CULTURAL MISSION WITH BJP’S ECONOMIC VISION

swadeshi, swalamban (self-reliance) and vikendrikaran (decentralisation) became central principles without much elaboration. But the Jana Sangh, to adopt a stance different from Congress’, argued for abolishing the license-quota-permit Raj. Yet, leaders did not have conviction to morph into Swatantra Party 2.0. [caption id="attachment_2234" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] Modi at a sangh meet 2016[/caption] SJM’s formation corresponded with BJP’s complete isolation among non-Congress parties after demolition of Babri Masjid. The campaigns against the Narasimha Rao government’s economic policies, Dunkel Draft and GATT, permission to MNCs and globalisation in partnership with left-liberal groups and civil society greatly enabled political mainstreaming of the BJP. In 1998, unlike in 1996, it succeeded in attracting allies and formed a coalition government. Irreconcilable differences over neo-liberal economic policies of the government made Mr Vajpayee’s tenure stormy and presence of a Sangh stalwart, Dattopant Thengadi, founder of BMS and SJM, added to his woes. Mr Modi does not face challenge from a Thengadi-like figure among the economic nationalists, result of a conscious decision of the RSS leadership. The BMS and BKS vie for support in a competitive sector where other trade unions and peasants organisations exist. Consequently, the affiliates cannot jeopardise its support by being seen as fronting for the government. Similarly, SJM is an important lobbyist against globalisation and neo-liberalism and will not forsake its position after all the hard work it has put in. Contrastingly, Mr Modi’s regime or any other market-oriented government will accept demands of the working class only to a limited extent. The struggle is to reach a point of agreement on vital issues, be it of FDI in different sectors, privatisation, labour reforms and continued mechanisation. Mr Modi’s added burden is that his advocacy of egalitarianism, adoption of Upadhyaya’s Integral Humanism has inherent similarities to both SJM’s viewpoint and also the left-liberal groups. He has to find avenues to wed his approach on development with that of Upadhyaya’s vision and that will be a challenging task. Post-liberalisation India has seen successive governments pursuing right-of-centre economic policies but same parties have shifted to the left-of-centre while in opposition. This was amply underscored during UPA rule when differences surfaced with the National Advisory Council. Mr Modi’s challenge is that economic nationalists in his fraternity do not acquire NAC’s clout. So far, the RSS leadership has played the role of adjudicator. On economic matters this helps most because the Nagpur secretariat does not have as rigid a viewpoint on economic issues as on cultural nationalism. At best, the economic vision of Mr Bhagwat and his immediate compatriots is that the nation’s development policies should be guided by national culture which in turn is particularised by Hindutva. Because Mr Modi’s reliance on the RSS cadre for winning polls is now greater than in 2014, he will have to do a tight rope walk. The RSS leadership appears to be in no hurry to serve notice on the government because of the absence of alternatives. To pursue policies that earn kudos from people and markets while keeping hardliners at bay, Mr Modi will have to exhibit hitherto unseen skills. // ]]>