Price Rise: Opposition Walks out of Rajya Sabha, Lok Sabha Adjourned
NEW DELHI: Opposition parties Monday staged a walkout in the Rajya Sabha expressing dissatisfaction over Finance Minister Arun Jaitley's reply on price rise, even as the BJP tried to blame the previous Congress-led government, calling inflation a "legacy of the UPA".
The Lok Sabha was adjourned for the day following an uproar over the issue. The lower house was earlier adjourned twice by Speaker Sumitra Mahajan.
"We have contained prices. The government is committed to keep them under check," Jaitley said in the Rajya Sabha.
The finance minister blamed the Congress for the rail fare hike, saying the decision for the hike was taken by the earlier government.
"It is not possible to fill gaps which Congress left, in just five weeks," he added.
Initiating the debate in the upper house, Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad slammed the Bharatiya Janata Party for taking steps which resulted in increasing inflation.
"The whole campaign of BJP was based on price rise. People voted for them, and as soon as they came in power, they took steps which caused further price rise," Azad said while starting the debate.
"They used to accuse us of being insensitive to the problems of the poor. In a month and a quarter of the new government, the common man is suffering badly due to price rise," he added.
Since coming to power, the BJP-led government has raised rail passenger fares and freight charges, besides hiking petrol, diesel and cooking gas rates.
The BJP, however, counter-blamed the Congress-led former United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government for the situation.
"It is a truth that people are suffering due to price rise. But who is responsible for it? It is a legacy of the UPA government," BJP leader Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said.
Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) leader Sitaram Yechury questioned if the BJP is carrying forward the UPA's legacy.
"Is this a relay race that the NDA government is carrying forward UPA's legacy?" Yechury asked.
Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati took a jibe at the BJP, saying the party and its partners had promised that poverty, inflation and corruption would vanish as soon as it came to power.
"Such assurances were given, but after coming to power it started a new tradition. The railways minister increased passenger fare and freight charges," she said.
Mayawati said the BJP cannot stop hoarding as it is a party of traders.
She said traders and business communities were engaged in hoarding and not the farmers.
"Achhe din nahi aaye hain, mehenge din aaye hain (good days have not come, costly days have come)," she said in reference to the BJP's election slogan.
Referring to the rail fare and freight hike, Derek O'Brien of the Trinamool Congress said the "trainee" railways minister has not read the Vision 2020 document.
He said the hike will affect the poor.
"Why give them the bitter pill? (The government) should have waited for the (rail) budget," he said, adding that increasing freight charges was not the solution.
Naresh Agrawal of the Samajwadi Party said his party decided to give the government six months to show results, but has now been forced to criticise it.
He wanted to know what action the government was going to take to deal with hoarding.
The government should have waited till the rail budget before hiking rates, he added.
Sharad Yadav of the Janata Dal-United (JD-U) pointed out that prices of not only vegetables and food grains have gone up, but prices of almost everything like cement and electronic items have also increased.
He said middlemen were responsible for inflation as farmers were selling their produce at low rates.