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Oppn slams govt on price rise
Go for God’s sake if you can’t tame inflation: BJP
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 3
Borrowing from English military and political leader Oliver Cromwell’s condemnation of England’s King Charles I, whom he overthrew to temporarily turn England into a Republican Commonwealth, the BJP today dared the Congress-led UPA coalition to “go if you cannot tame the rising prices”.

Cromwell had famously proclaimed at the time of King Charles I’s execution in 1649, “You have sat too long for any good you have been doing lately.... Depart, I say; and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go!”

Drawing from Cromwell’s castigation of the British monarch, former Finance Minister and BJP member from Hazaribagh Yashwant Sinha today said to the government in the Lok Sabha, “Go for God’s sake if you can’t control inflation.” He was winding up his hour-long attack on the UPA for its failure to curb food inflation and repeatedly increasing the prices of petrol, diesel, LPG and kerosene.

Sinha, who moved the motion on price rise under Rule 184 of the Conduct of House procedures, articulated the Opposition’s concerns on inflation as the House debated the issue for the 13th time in the recent past today. He began by reminding Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who was present, that Parliament was not a place for school debate and that parties expected the government to act on the issues discussed.

“Parliament is no talking shop. We seek action beginning tomorrow. If you want, you can reduce prices in two months,” Sinha said, leading the debate which Law Minister Salman Khursheed later replied to as the first Congress speaker.

Khursheed was weak in his defence as JDU’s Sharad Yadav, SP’s Shailendra Kumar, CPI’s Gurudas Dasgupta and Akali Dal’s Paramjit Kaur Gulshan cornered the government for allowing prices to rise.

The BJP began by narrating the reality -- one-third of the government revenue is coming from inflation; rising prices have caused 5 crore people to fall below the poverty line, as per the Asian Development Bank; 20 per cent poorest Indians spent 67 per cent of their earnings on food.

Accusing the UPA of following a policy of high GDP growth at every cost (which Khursheed rejected), Sinha said growth which came with starvation was unacceptable. The BJP urged the government to release 20 million tones of the 65.5 million tones of foodgrain it was holding to bring down food prices, and also attacked the Prime Minister for raising inflationary expectations by repeatedly saying that inflation would fall in two months.

“In doing so, you encourage hoarders,” Sinha said, recalling the government’s Economic Survey 2010-11 which admitted that there was a need to improve the foodgrain release policy. The survey recorded that the government, to ward off its losses, priced foodgrains so high that there were no buyers.

Overall, while the Congress claimed it did well to ward off the 2008 recession by releasing two lakh crore worth of stimulus into the economy, the Opposition reminded it that it increased its revenue expenditure which didn’t boost production and jobs and only added to the fiscal deficit and inflation. You should have increased capital expenditure, Sinha said, warning the UPA against the FDI in retail, futures trading and increasing investment outflow from India (Indian industrialists invested $4.4 billion outside while only $2.7 billion came back).

While Sharad Yadav and Dasgupta reminded the government of the ills of the over-liberalised economy, Sinha summarised the Opposition angst on inflation by telling the Prime Minister that he should go if he felt helpless about curbing prices. Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee will reply to the debate tomorrow.




Allies also target govt on price rise
Faraz Ahmad/TNS

New Delhi, August 3
UPA government's success in softening the BJP attack on price rise seems to have provoked its allies and former allies to take it to task for its "insincerity".

DMK leader TKS Elangovan led the charge saying, "We ritually discuss price rise every session only to ensure further rise during the inter-session. Last session, we passed a resolution but nothing was implemented."

Blaming the middlemen for the price rise, he, however, said, "The government is responsible for allowing the middlemen to do forward trading. We had suggested amendments in the Essential Commodities Act. I do not know what happened to that?"

RJD leader and former minister Raghuvansh Prasad Singh in UPA-I government was no less scathing. He said, "They are mocking at the poor. They say that it will take another six months for the prices to come down, but why the prices of luxury items are coming down while essential commodities are getting more expensive."

CPI leader Gurudas Dasgupta was also full of sarcasm. He dismissed BJP leader Yashwnat Sinha's resolution as "too infructuous, too pious" to be effective. He condemned "the shameful inertia of the government in taking effective measures in last seven years to curb inflation".

Samajwadi Party leader Shailendra Kumar said, "Whenever the Congress government comes to power, it increases the prices of oil and essential commodities and reduces it just before elections are announced."



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