NEW DELHI: The NDA Government on Wednesday blamed hoarders for the rise in the prices of essential commodities including onions, potatoes and other food items, assuring it would control the prices despite the monsoon being below normal.
Union Food Minister Ram Vilas Paswan told the Lok Sabha that there was no shortage of supplies, but that hoarders were taking huge cuts. Paswan said the NDA Government has brought onions and potatoes under the Essential Commodities Act, and stringent punishment for hoarders had been approved, making the act a non-bailable offence. Paswan said he has asked the Chief Ministers of various states for at least six months’ time to control rising inflation.
“These three-four months are very crucial but there is no need to panic. It is still only July and and I can assure you that we have enough food stock and despite a bad monsoon, we will be able to tame the inflation,” Paswan said.
Paswan, who was replying to a discussion on price rise, maintained that an increase in sugar price was steered by the hoarders, although there was sufficient stock of sugar.
However, Paswan’s reply could not satisfy the agitated Congress members, who staged a walk-out.
Earlier, initiating the debate, Deputy Leader of the Congress Amarinder Singh mocked the ruling party’s slogan “Achche Din”. “These are the Achche Din. This is a tragedy which is happening.” he said.
Amarinder said there was an interesting graph that kept going up for some reason from the time the new government took over, indicating that food prices have been rising as a whole.
BJP MP from Hamirpur Anurag Thakur countered Amarinder’s arguments saying that the UPA was solely responsible for the price rise. Thakur said the Congress did nothing in the last 10 years when the party was in power and was now making a month-old government responsible for it.
Thakur said during the 120 months of UPA rule, the country witnessed price rise in 70 months.
Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar (TMC) opposed the rail fare hike, saying it would trigger the price rise of essential commodities. “We will have to stand by the farmer and extend support to him to have the best yield possible to supply to the poor. Onion stands at `32 to `35 per kg. Potato is at `25 per kg. Pulses are at `80 per kg. So, what is the poor man going to eat,” he asked.