“Undoubtedly, the Akshayashree networks will flourish further in Kerala and provide Sangh Parivar forces the much needed political mileage and advancement,’ said Ad. Jayashankar.

Image Courtesy: Mathrubhumi

Ernakulam: Various ventures and welfare schemes of the central government have become a tool for the RSS and BJP to expand their presence in Kerala. Sahakar Bharati’s Akshayashrees are planned and operated in such a way that they have become the working grounds of RSS and BJP in the state. In a similar line, Nidhi companies are also expected to provide proper premises for like minded action.

D Dhanuraj, Chairman, Centre for Public Policy Research, a think-tank based in Kochi, told Mathrubhumi.com that, “Such initiatives in Kerala are part of the long-term goals of the central BJP leadership. I don’t think that even the state BJP leadership is directly involved in it or aware of such initiatives and its motives. The central leadership has different approaches to states based on the studies and research. BJP’s national agenda would not work here and the central leadership is well aware of it. Kerala has a history of great cooperative movement and such ventures must have been implemented on the basis of it. See the progress of BJP in north eastern states, it’s not an abrupt development but the result of  long and relentless works of BJP for many years.”

He also said that BJP has a chance in Kerala but due to various reasons it is not getting materialised. These ventures will definitely help BJP to make big political advancements.’

Of the nearly 10,000 Nidhi companies in India, nearly 1,500 are in Kerala. Nearly half of Nidhi companies in Kerala are Thrissur-based and most of them are operated by people from  minority communities. Akshayashree members were also urged to start Nidhi companies in Kerala to attract voters in the name of Hindu banks. 

Nidhi companies are non-banking financial institutions registered under Companies Act under the Ministry of Corporate Affairs. It can lend and borrow money, but only from its members. Accepting deposits from its members at an interest rate of 12.5 percent is also allowed. Loan can be provided at an interest rate of maximum 20 percent to its members.

“For starting a Nidhi company, there must be seven members and all the members must be citizens of India. For starting the company, the group has to apply on the website of the ministry with all proper records. Over a period of ten years, the company should have a minimum of 200 members and there is no limit for issuing memberships. All Indian citizens can start Nidhi companies, not just the members of RSS or BJP or Hindu community,” said Davis A Palathinkal, President of Nidhi Company Association.

Akshayashrees are part of the larger national network of BJP’s Sahakar Bharti, a pan-India NGO of cooperatives. There are around 7,800 Akshayashree units across the state with nearly 2-lakh members. The mission aims to have 25,000 units by 2024.  

Akshayashree members are also urged to start various ventures by forming self-help-groups. The flourishing supermarket network ‘Samrudhi Store’ across the state is an ideal example to highlight the fastness by which the network is growing. Around 60 such supermarkets are there in the state and the plan is to make it 1,000 by 2024. Akshayashree members are free to undertake any ventures such as cultivation of pineapple, plantain, paddy, tapioca etc, dairy and fish farming, making grocery flours etc.

Akshayashree also provides loans for its members at an interest rate of 9.75 percent. “As per an agreement with the central government, Dhanalakshmi Bank provides loans for Akshayashree members. A maximum of Rs 50,000 is provided and it has to be repaid in 28 installments,” said Nisha Padmakumar, District Coordinator of Akshayashree Mission, Kollam.

RSS, BJP deny politics behind the ventures

The office-bearers and state leaders of RSS and BJP claim that there is no politics behind promoting such ventures and the sole intention behind the mission is to empower people at the ground level. However, political observers opined that the Kudumbasree-model venture will undoubtedly help the RSS-BJP to make silent political inroads in the long run.

BJP State General Secretary, MT Ramesh, told Mathrubhumi.com that there is no politics involved in the implementation of Akshayashree units in the state. “It is for the welfare of people irrespective of caste, religion, colour and politics. Many of the BJP workers are involved in the activities of Sahakar Bharati’s various initiatives; but that does not mean any political involvement in it.”

RSS leaders in Kerala have also denied any political involvement in it. “There is an independent body functioning to take care of the activities of Sahakar Bharati in Kerala. RSS is not directly involved in any of its activities but we promote the venture and help people to get its benefits,’ said PN Eeshwaran, Prantha Karyavaahak (Thrissur).

Akshayashree was started with an intention to encourage people in the lower section of the society to produce commodities which are needed for our daily life and sell them through our Samrudhi Store network, said SB Jayaraj, General Secretary of Sahakar Bharati Kerala. “We aim to revive the production sector and thus in turn the local economy has to be powered. By making people aware of the need to be productive, we can make them financially stable and self-sufficient. People from different caste, religion and political parties join our ventures as there is no politics involved in it. It functions freely and independently,” added SB Jayaraj.

Will RSS-BJP make political advancement in Kerala?

‘The influence of Sangh Parivar forces has been growing exponentially in all walks of life in Kerala as they penetrate strongly in various aspects of the society. This has not been addressed or discussed properly. Look at the way Sevabharathi has been functioning. The so-called secularists may not accept them, but they have been implementing various welfare measures and getting attached to the public. They know what to do when and how. They have an effective system and it will help them  coordinate the activities of Akshayashrees and implement various projects of Sahakar Bharathi much more successfully. Undoubtedly, the Akshayashree networks will flourish further in Kerala and provide Sangh Parivar forces the much needed political mileage and advancement,’ said Ad. A Jayashankar, a political analyst.

This article was published in Mathrubhumi

D. Dhanuraj
D. Dhanuraj
Dr D Dhanuraj is the Chairman and Managing Trustee of CPPR. He holds a PhD in Science & Humanities (Anna University), MSc Physics (Mahatma Gandhi University) and MA Political Science (Madras Christian College). He also holds a Post Graduate Executive Diploma in International Business from Loyola Institute of Business Administration, Chennai, and has undergone training by TTMBA of Atlas USA, IAF Germany, FEE USA, etc. His core areas of expertise are in urbanisation, urban transport & infrastructure, education, health, livelihood, law, and election analysis. He can be contacted by email at [email protected] or on Twitter @dhanuraj

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