The government may have come back with a resounding majority that frees up its arm considerably but there is unlikely to be any let-up in the persistent nudges from the RSS-affiliated Swadeshi Jagran Manch (SJM).
The new Narendra Modi government has just taken charge and the SJM is preparing to write its first letter to the prime minister pointing out the violations of rules by ‘powerful MNCs’ like Monsanto, the slow pace with which the Competition Commission of India (CCI) is supposedly deciding on cases against them and the negligent attitude of the agriculture ministry. While the Manch’s first communication to the new government will go out this week on the CCI and Bt Cotton issue, a bigger agenda is being introduced. ET has learned that next on SJM’s target is the strategic disinvestment plan for Air India and the increasing tendency of government departments to deploy big foreign consultants.
Both are matters that the Manch is preparing to take up strongly with the government at each level over the next few months. The SJM is already using social media to alert the government and its new ministers against the alleged ‘business’ rather than philanthropic interests of top global charities in India, deep discounts by Amazon and Flipkart hurting Indian e-commerce startups and US ‘bullying’ the new government through the withdrawal of special trade status.
The RSS-affiliate was unsparing to the first Modi stint as well. It strongly criticized the Niti Aayog and its first chairman Arvind Panagariya for its approach and kept the pressure lobbying for price control of medicines and medical devices, red flagging the Gates Foundation in India and the impact of global e-commerce giants on the Indian retailers. Under Modi 2.0, first up on the Manch agenda, however, is Monsanto and the delay in action against it. SJM is likely to seek PMO’s intervention to ask CCI to expedite the process and punish the company for its violations. ET first reported how CCI had recently submitted a confidential report confirming that Mahyco Monsanto Biotech Ltd (MMBL) had abused its dominant position in the market for Bt Cotton technology by charging unfair license fee and entering into pricing agreements directly aimed at overcharging farmers who use Bt Cotton seeds. MMBL is an equal joint venture of Maharashtra-based seed company Mahyco and Monsanto Holding Pvt Ltd which has been acquired by German drugmaker Bayer.