The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Anti-reform axis in place

New Delhi, Sept. 20: With the BJP planning its “gaon ki ore chalo” campaign from September 25 to propagate the Vajpayee government’s achievements, mobilise cadre and debunk 45 years of Congress rule, a counter campaign against the government’s “anti-people” economic policies will be launched on the same day by the Sangh parivar.

The Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS), the Swadeshi Jagran Manch (SJM) and the Bharatiya Kisan Sangh (BKS) are coming together for the first time against the government’s policies on globalisation and privatisation.

BKS chief Kunwarjibhai Jadhav said that while subsidies were being reduced in India, in Europe and the US, they were on the rise. “Those who ignore the interests of the farmers will have to suffer the consequences,” he said.

“The performance of the NDA government on the economic front is very poor and disappointing. The NDA agenda had mentioned that the formulation of economic policies will be solely guided by swadeshi. But now it is blatantly clear that this government is also following policies and strategies formulated and implemented by previous governments,” SJM convener Murlidhar Rao said.

They said that unless the government rolls back its policies, especially on disinvestment, labour reforms and foreign direct investment, they would do everything to derail the reform process set in motion by Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

Rao even said the Congress was not cashing in on the government’s failures on the economic front and that it was left to the Sangh organisations to take the lead. “I do not want to give space to the Congress,” he said.

BMS president Hasmukh Dave, Jadhav and Rao convened a press conference “to emphasise the importance of their campaign” from September 25 to October 2. They are organising public rallies in state capitals and Delhi to “educate and mobilise” people.

Coming down heavily on the government, the leaders said its policies were “anti-labour, anti-farmer and anti-employment”.

Specially targeting Planning Commission member N.K. Singh and Montek Singh Ahluwalia, they said they want the government to stop what they called “anti-people, anti-labour and anti-farmer” policies and appoint “swadeshi-minded” bureaucrats in key positions.

“People whose interests are doubtful and who are insensitive to national interests are formulating policies like FDI which are not based on scientific or objective logic or evaluation.”

Rao, however, said their campaign was not aimed at 2004 general elections but was a social movement which would continue till government sincerely implemented swadeshi concepts.

Charging the government with blindly following economic policies initiated by Narasimha Rao, they said liberalisation, globalisation and privatisation policy have “led to closures, retrenchments, reduced employment and suicides among farmers”.

“We hoped that the Vajpayee government would change the policies pursued by the previous governments and pursue a swadeshi agenda. Instead, the cost of power, irrigation and fertilisers have gone up, farmers are committing suicide,” Dave said. “Farmers are dying and MNCs are being pampered,” added Jadhav.

Their major demands are:

n Reject N.K. Singh report on FDI

n Set up of a tripartite committee on disinvestment comprising representatives of trade unions, employers and the government

n Remove ceiling on bonus

n Stop move to further reduce the interest on provident fund

n Give emphasis on employment generation along with GDP growth

n Do not accept WTO as fait accompli. Instead play proactive role at world forums to protect national interests

n Review of economic policies undertaken in the last one decade and the role of MNCs

n Review disintestment strategy to ensure a) enhanced competition b) increased productivity and c) protection of employees’ interests.

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