Blaming Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar for the unprecedented rise in price of food and other essential commodities, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati on Wednesday demanded his immediate removal from the post.
In an obvious bid to find an excuse to abstain from the January 27 chief ministers' meet convened by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, whose meetings have generally been boycotted by her, she literally chose to issue an ultimatum, "In case Pawar was not divested of the charge of the agriculture portfolio latest by January 27, I will boycott the meeting of state chief ministers convened by the prime minister to discuss price rise," Mayawati told mediapersons in Lucknow.
Accusing the Central government's policies for the spiraling prices, she said, "The proposed meeting simply reflects Central government's double-speak on the issue."
And lambasting Pawar for his remarks on the possibility of a rise in milk prices, she observed, "On one hand, the PM was inviting chief ministers to thrash out ways and means to curb prices, his own cabinet colleague was hinting at rise in the price of milk."
In the same vein, she said, "Even in the past, it were irresponsible statements issued by Pawar that led to rise in prices of essential commodities."
And went on to add, "He therefore has no business to be continuing as the country's agriculture minister; it is hightime the prime minister should take action against him."
Claiming that her government was particular about cracking the whip on hoarders, the UP chief minister sought to point out how she had directed officers right down to the sub divisional magistrate level to ensure deterrent action against hoarders.
She was also very critical of the Maharastra government's recent order, whereby knowledge of Marathi language and stay in Maharastra for a minimum period of 15 years would be made mandatory for anyone seeking a taxi permit in that state.
"Ï strongly condemn the move as it is against the spirit of the Constitution," she said.
Image: UP Chief Minster Mayawati