M A I N   N E W S

Rising Prices
PM: Don’t politicise people’s misery
Tripti Nath
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 25
Stung by the snub from the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) that “political parties eschew the temptation of politicising the misery of the people”, the Left has warned the government not to take it for granted.

Infuriated by the Press statement issued by the PMO soon after its leaders met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, here today, the Left parties said it was “insulting and unfortunate.” At the same time, the Left has dismissed media’s interpretation of a trust deficit between the Left and the PMO.

The second paragraph of the statement issued by the PMO said, “The PM has urged all political parties to eschew the temptation of politicising the misery of the people and warned against creating an environment of scarcity, which would only encourage speculators and hoarders. The government is taking all necessary steps to deal with the problem and there is no need for political parties to indulge in scare mongering.”

The three paragraph statement was issued soon after six senior Communist leaders led by CPM general secretary Prakash Karat had a 40-minute meeting with Manmohan Singh on various aspects of price rise and food security.

The delegation drew the Prime Minister’s attention to its often repeated demands on strengthening the public distribution system (PDS), restoring cut in foodgrains allocations to states under the PDS and putting curbs on foodgrain procurement from farmers by private companies and traders.

The leaders also reiterated their demand for banning futures trading in 25 agricultural commodities, cutting custom and excise duties on oil and reducing retail prices of petrol and diesel, stringent action against hoarding of essential commodities and lowering of present requirement of declaration of stocks of food grains of 50,000 tonnes and above held in godowns and warehouses to 10,000 tonnes.

Terming the statement as “most insulting to the Left parties,” CPI general secretary, A.B. Bardhan, who also met the PM, said, “We refuse to accept the charge that raising the price rise issue is scare mongering. The issue of price rise is a fact. Price rise is the most worrying issue across all sections of society. We only want to convey that the government should not continue to take us for granted. It should remember that it has to rely on us. You will see how we react.”

Not convinced with the Prime Minister’s defence that many other countries have even higher rates of inflation, Bardhan told the PM that “this is very small comfort. It does not solve the problems of the people.” Bardhan said he also asked the PM, a noted economist, to explain as to how the prices had increased when food production had increased?

The PMO’s statement said the PM told the delegation that indication of improved food production this year would contribute to increased food procurement.

Asked whether the Communist parties would redefine their floor strategy in Parliament in light of the PMO’s statement, Bardhan said, “We have been taking a very strong position on the question of price rise. Resolutions have been moved and discussions have taken place. We have been holding demonstrations. Since the government is not addressing the core issue, we will continue the movement against price rise.”

The CPI central secretariat has appealed to the working class to observe May Day as a militant occasion against price rise. The party has decided to organise 100 mass rallies at important centres across the country between May 1 and May 15.

As a part of its de-hoarding campaign, district and party units at major centres will identify godowns where private business houses have stored their stocks of foodgrains, pulses and edible oils.

Reacting sharply to the statement, CPM Politburo member, Sitaram Yechury said political parties are duty bound to raise issues concerning hardships faced by the people. “The second paragraph of the statement equally applies to the PMO. The government of the day cannot remain callous to the hardships of the people. When the government says that price rise is a global phenomenon, we say that so is bird flu. But, are they not taking measures to prevent bird flu?” Not content with the PM’s “We will consider” response to the demands made by the Left, Yechury prescribed drastic measures to control price rise.



HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Letters | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | Delhi |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |