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'Rule of BJP govt has seen backbreaking all-round price rise'

Last updated on: July 07, 2014 13:44 IST

Slamming the Bharatiya Janata Party government for spurt in prices of essential commodities during its 45-day rule, Opposition Congress on Monday took potshots at Prime Minister Narendra Modi for riding to power on promise of controlling inflation yet doing nothing on it.

Speaking on the issue after his demand for suspension of Question Hour to discuss price rise was accepted by the ruling party, Leader of the Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad said the one-and-half-month rule of BJP government has seen all round rise in prices of vegetables and fruits.

Since coming to power, the BJP-led government has raised rail passenger fares and freight charges besides hiking petrol, diesel and LPG rates that have cascading impact on prices of other commodities, the Congress leader said.

Azad said when in 2012 the UPA government had raised rail fares before the railway budget, the then chief minister of Gujarat had written to the prime minister opposing such adjustments prior to presentation of the Rail Budget and had demanded its rollback.

"In two years what has changed" that the BJP government raised not just passenger fares but also freight days ahead of the Railway budget, he said, pointing out that fares and freight have been raised by a steep 14-16 per cent.

BJP and Modi's 6-month election campaign was centred around price rise and Congress and UPA leadership was criticised for being oblivious to the plight of poor, he said.

"If Congress did not know poverty and if BJP leaders had better knowledge, then why did they provide for back breaking prices rise in one-and-half-months," he asked.

Azad demanded immediate rollback in rail fares as well as the hike in diesel, petrol and LPG rates.

He said the UPA had initiated landmark measures like the MNREGA and Food Security Bill to help poor.

"Did we not spend money on infrastructure in 10 years," he said, pointing to new airports that came up in Delhi, Mumbai and other places as well as roads and highways, schools and universities built in various parts of the country.

"Even during world economic crisis, we did not stop spending on infrastructure," he said, adding the BJP rule has seen "chaumukhi mahangi (all round price rise)."

Earlier, soon after new members took oath and Chairman Hamid Ansari read out obituary reference, members in the Opposition benches were up on their feet demanding discussion on price rise.

On being allowed by Ansari to speak, Azad said his party has given a notice for suspension of Question Hour and taking up discussion on price rise.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said the government was open to discussion on the issue.

"We have absolutely no difficulty...you may start the discussion right now," Jaitley said after which Ansari called Azad to initiate discussion on price rise and inflation.

Earlier, soon after new members took oath and Chairman Hamid Ansari read out obituary reference, members in the Opposition benches were up on their feet demanding discussion on price rise.

On being allowed by Ansari to speak, Azad said his party has given a notice for suspension of Question Hour and taking up discussion on price rise.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said the government was open to discussion on the issue. "We have absolutely no difficulty...you may start the discussion right now," Jaitley said after which Ansari called Azad to initiate discussion on price rise and inflation.

BSP chief Mayawati took a jibe at BJP saying the party and its partners had promised that poverty, inflation and corruption would vanish as soon as it came to power, but the new government raised prices.

"Such assurances were given (during the election campaign) ...but after coming to power it started a new tradition ...Railways minister increased passenger fare and freight charges (before budget)," she said.

There were protests all over the country, but instead of rolling back the hikes government also raised prices of petrol and diesel, the BSP leader said.

Referring to government's statements that hoarding in the backdrop of deficient rains was cause of price rise, Mayawati said BJP cannot stop hoarding as it is party of traders. She said traders and business communities were engaged in hoarding and not the farmers.

She said "achhe din nahi aaye hain, mehenge din aaye hain (good days have not come, costly days have come)" in reference to the BJP's election slogan.

Referring to the rail fare and freight hike, Derek O'Brien (TMC) 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? (Government) should have waited for the (rail) budget," he said, adding increasing freight charges is not the solution.

He said inclusion of onion and potato in the list of essential commodities "seems a good idea", but the government was yet to define "hoarding". He also alleged that BJP came to power on back of a multi-billion dollar advertisement campaign.

Naresh Agrawal (SP) said his party had decided to give six months to the new government to show results, but was forced to criticise it quite early.

He wanted to know what action government was going to take to deal with hoarding. He said the government should have waited till the Rail budget before hiking rates.

The SP leader asked the government to take tough decisions to bring down prices. Sharad Yadav (JD-U) pointed out that prices of not only vegetables and food grains have gone up, but prices of almost every thing like cement and electronic items have gone up.

He said middlemen were responsible for inflation as farmers were selling their produce at low rates.

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