Why Infosys is latest RSS target
By Radhika Ramaseshan
The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) directly targeted India’s IT pioneer and major Infosys through its in-house Hindi mouthpiece, “Panchajanya”, demanding accountability for the glitches that cropped up in the new income tax filing portal developed by Infosys, days after the company’s CEO, Salil Parekh was summoned by the Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman to reset the software by September 15.
However, Panchajanya’s diatribe against Infosys acquired an ideological dimension after the magazine in its cover story “Saakh aur Aaghaat” (Reputation and Harm) accused the company of “destabilizing” the Indian economy and operating in cahoots with the “tukde, tukde gang”, a phrase used to defame Naxals, Leftists, and Jammu and Kashmir separatists in the past.
The basis for the allegations rested, not on any evidence, but on two queries and circumstances that the article flagged: would Infosys have provided such “shoddy service” to its overseas clients? Second, the company “helped” the “tukde, tukde gang”, a term overarching enough to insinuate Infosys’s support to establishment-unfriendly news portals and its co-founder, Nandan Nilekani having contested 2014 elections from Bengaluru South as a Congress candidate.
However, Nilekani is hardly persona non grata with the Narendra Modi regime. Not only did the Modi government embrace his Aadhar concept and program after initial reservations and a few amendments, in July this year, Nilekani was made a member of an official panel to advise the Centre on measures needed to design and accelerate the adoption of Open Network for Digital Commerce, although the notion of digital commerce is red rag to the RSS’s economic front, the Swadeshi Jagran Manch (SJM).
The singling out of Infosys by name without evidence typifies the hit-and-run tactics used by the RSS and its affiliates in the past but those principally claimed prominent political victims. This is the first time that a corporate major has become a likely sufferer of the maneuver.
The attack on Infosys came days after Piyush Goyal, the commerce minister, assailed the industry for seeking out “foreigners” as business cohorts and for partnering “falana, dhimkana” (anyone and everyone). However, his remarks were made at a closed-door function hosted by the CII, that surfaced in a leaked audiotape and not stated publicly like “Panchajanya” did.
The Centre and the BJP did not react to Goyal’s outburst or the tirade against Infosys except for Sangh sources maintaining that “national interest” was supreme in both cases and “non-negotiable”.
While on August 12 PM Modi implored the corporate sector to take advantage of a raft of “reforms” his government introduced, notably discarding the 2012 retrospective tax amendments and correctives to decriminalize economic offenses and scale up investments, it remains to be seen if the recent interventions from within the BJP and the Sangh will impede his attempts to pull off a balancing act.
Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the BJP’s other PM, managed to keep the swadeshi lobbyists at bay, except in 2000 when his government was forced to “shelve” the Sankhya Vahini project that would have set up a high-speed data network.
Vajpayee paid a price for being confrontational with the RSS and its economic fronts on other occasions. His finance minister Yashwant Sinha was abused publicly while Vajpayee was lampooned in an SJM in-house magazine.
(Courtesy: Business Standard)