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Congress slams Pawar on price rise issue

By Renu Mittal
Last updated on: February 09, 2010 03:47 IST
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Two days after the Congress Working Committee (CWC) witnessed Pawar-bashing at the hands of senior Congress leaders, the party once again attacked the Union Agriculture Minister, saying that prices were responsibility of the Agriculture and Food Ministry and "it is natural for the party to articulate the concerns of millions of people".

AICC spokesman Manish Tewari while responding to Pawar's articulation on the collective responsibility of the government, said there is collective responsibility as well as collective and differential responsibility and since Pawar is in charge of the ministry of food, the rising prices of food is his responsibility.

So far the Congress had been handling Pawar with kid gloves in public but the latest salvo fired by Pawar when he went to meet Bal Thackeray appears to have got  the Congress all up particularly since the meeting comes just a day after Rahul Gandhi's successful visit to Mumbai.

The visit to Matoshree is a pattern which Sharad Pawar follows when he is under pressure from the Congress. During the seat-sharing talks with the Congress, Pawar went to meet his old friend Bal Thackeray. When there was a stand-off in the formation of the government, again Pawar went to Matoshree and now he went to ask him to allow Australian players to play safely in India in the coming IPL.

On record, the Congress said it was not concerned with who met whom as that was their personal business, but the party said that while it does not believe in bashing its allies, it does believe in articulating the concerns of the people on the issue of price rise.

It's not for the first time that the Congress and the NCP have publicly demonstrated their discomfort with each other. But political pundits feel that like in the past, this phase too will pass since the Congress does not want to sacrifice the  state  government at this stage.

For the moment both the Congress and the NCP have little or no option but to stay together, the only difference being that emboldened by Rahul's aggressive and definitive visit to Mumbai, the Congress is fully in the mood to take Pawar on, for as long as it takes to subdue him.

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Renu Mittal in New Delhi
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