Cracks in Sangh?

The latest news of the resignation of Arvind Panagariya from the post of vice-chairman of the Niti Aayog is a revelation of the contradictions within the Sangh Parivar. The reason given by Professor Panagariya is grotesque. He is anxious about his job prospects, and if he remains in his present position for another two and a half years , which he is entitled to, he would lose his covetous job at the Columbia University. The fact is that when he accepted the present appointment it was not unknown to him that a five-year stay as the vice-chairman of the government's economic think-tank might force him out of the professorship at the Columbia University. Again, there is no indication that his leave there will not be extended if he wants an extension.

That Professor Panagariya was an ardent supporter of the Modi-model of economic development is well-known. He did not care the least for the fact that in terms of physical quality of life index, Modi's Gujarat is a middle-ranking state and during the period of Modi's rule, its all-India rank in this respect did not move up at all, despite investments worth several trillions of rupees. To Panagariya and his likes, economic development ostensibly means higher profits for the corporate lobby and high wages for some trained technical and managerial personnel. This is where their contradictions with Professor Amartya Sen became apparent. Professor Sen is in favour of a direct attack on the problems of poverty, illiteracy and lack of proper health care, whereas Jagdish Bhagwati, Panagariya and others are advocates of some sort of downward filtration. It may be mentioned that Professor Amit Bhaduri, in several articles, strongly argued in favour of an employment-oriented approach towards development emphasising the need for expansion of the internal market by raising the income of the lower sections of the population.

As the Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS), the trade union wing of Modi's party —Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)—has rightly observed the Niti Aayog's overtly pro-corporate postures have projected an anti-labour face of the government. Possibly the BMS and the Hindutva outfits are unable to cover up this face with the tactics of communal polarisation, because Hindutva is not always a pill that workers in distress can be made to swallow as a remedy for their problems. In Nazi Germany, there were the Brown Shirts who used to talk about socialism along with nationalism, but finally they were effectively eliminated in order to meet the demands of German monopoly capital, and the aggressive imperialist adventures of Hitler could not be undertaken at all without the support of this monopoly capital. What will happen to organisations like the Swadeshi Jagran Manch, the BMS's anti-corporate rheteoric etc? Will Nrandra Modi be able to reconcile them with his pro-corporate and pro-multinational policies? It’s quite likely that Modi will have his way because he is still the darling of the corporate houses and internal dissent within his saffron camp is very feeble. The common ground of aggressive Hindutva, however, does not seem to be enough.

Meanwhile, the appointment of Rajiv Kumar as the new vice-chairman of the government think-tank Niti Aayog, five days after the incumbent Arvind Panagariya announced that he would quit to return to academia, was hailed by the chambers of commerce. The Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) as also the all powerful Federation of Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) welcomed Modi’s prompt decision to select a man who served both CII and FICCI in yester years. In other words Modi faces no real danger from within despite some apparent cracks in the Sangh. The BMS has no long tradition of trade union struggle against Indian big business and they are unlikely to do anything serious other than issuing harmless statements against their very own government that is out and out anti-worker and anti people.

Vol. 50, No.7, Aug 20 - 26, 2017