Setting in place a mechanism for “better coordination” between the BJP-led government and the RSS, the first meeting between union ministers and representatives of Sangh affiliated organisations was held on Tuesday.
While the government was represented by Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh, Labour Minister Narendra Singh Tomar, Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar, Power Minister Piyush Goyal and Minister of State for Agriculture Sanjeev Kumar Balyan, RSS pointsman for BJP Krishna Gopal, senior functionary Suresh Soni, and BJP general secretaries Ram Lal, Ram Madhav and P Murlidhar Rao were also present at the four-hour-long meeting.
Union Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitaraman was expected to attend the meeting but could not make it as she was away on an official tour.
Twenty-nine people, including leaders of Sangh affiliates like Swadeshi Jagaran Manch, Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh, Bharatiya Kisan Sangh, Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram, Laghu Udyog Bharati and Sahakar Bharati, were also present.
“With today’s meeting, the process of coordination between the government and the RSS has been initiated. Today, the meeting was with the ministries related to economic activities. It was a general meeting and will be followed by consultations between the individual organisations and the concerned ministries,” said a source who attended the meeting.
“The ministers will take suggestions and feedback from the Sangh leaders and, in the process, confrontation on policy matters can be avoided,” he added.
Sources said such meetings, conceptualised to build trust between the government and the RSS, would be a regular affair. “Organisations working in different sectors will have similar meetings with the concerned ministries. For example, those working in the education sector will have consultations with HRD, Science and Technology etc,” said the source.
While organisations working in the service sector will meet the concerned ministers on Wednesday, Union HRD Minister Smriti Irani will consult representatives of Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad and Vidya Bharati on Thursday.
“Tuesday’s meeting was just to share perspectives. We want to avoid confrontation on policy matters. Certain initiatives by the government have already created some difference of opinion among us,” said another person who attended the meeting. The SJM and BKS have opposed a decision of the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee to approve field testing of GM food crop, and FDI in defence and railways.
“We had several demands but this meeting was too brief to take up all of them. We raised our most important demands — regularise contract workers, grant them all benefits at par with regular workers and give central government employee status to anganwadi workers. The Labour Minister was favourable to our demands. He said he needed some time to study the matter,” said BMS general secretary Virjesh Upadhyay.
Earlier, the BMS had announced that it would oppose the proposed changes to the Factories (Amendment) Bill, 2014 and the Apprentices (Amendment) Bill 2014, introduced by Tomar during the budget session. RSS affiliated organisations like SJM and BKS had caused embarrassment to the previous NDA government led by A B Vajpayee by publicly opposing some of the economic policies.
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