The CM says BJP using onion prices to its advantage is a "political gimmick"

On the eve of the food security programme launch in the Capital, Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit said the government is going ahead with its implementation on the basis of the Food Security Ordinance. “I have found out the technicalities. Since the ordinance is in place we can go ahead with the implementation and we will do so,” she said on Monday.

Senior government officials said even if the bill is not passed by Parliament, it can be reintroduced as an ordinance and it will not affect the food security scheme being implemented in the Capital.

The scheme, that will be rolled out on Tuesday and will take effect from September 1, is projected to benefit 74 lakh people and will be linked with Aadhar.

Govt. intervention

Ms. Dikshit said her government has always ensured food security in the Capital. “In the last eight to 10 years, whenever there has been a problem we have stepped in,” she said in context of high onion prices. She said 3,200 tonnes of onions were available in the Capital on Monday whereas the daily demand was 1,000 tonnes.

“Onion prices are down to Rs. 45 per kg and our aim is to bring it down to between Rs. 30 and Rs. 35 per kg in the next couple of days. We are not selling onions at reasonable rates as a political party but we are doing it as a duty of the government,” she said.

Ms. Dikshit termed the Bharatiya Janata Party’s attempts to use this issue to its advantage a “political gimmick”. “One political party opened four outlets and two more outlets were opened by a party that is trying to become a political party,” she quipped.

On Sunday, the BJP started selling onions at Rs. 25 per kg and demanded the immediate removal of Food and Civil Supplies Minister Haroon Yusuf. Meanwhile, the Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Admi Party also started selling vegetables in some localities at reduced prices.

Responding to a question on whether she was worried about the possible impact of onion prices on the upcoming Assembly polls, Ms. Dikshit recalled 1998 when the BJP Government was ousted following rising prices. She said: “The BJP Government fell that time because it did not show any signs of intervening in the market. They think it will happen to us. What will happen to us will be known in the elections.”

Ms. Dikshit wondered why in States ruled by the Opposition BJP, the government had failed to bring down onion prices. “The government in Madhya Pradesh has criticised the Centre, but here the same party is targeting the Chief Minister. The prices of onions have gone up everywhere.”

Drawing attention to market forces, Ms. Dikshit brought up the price of apples over the past year. “Last year apples were at Rs. 145 per kg and this year they are down to Rs. 45- 50 per kg,” she said. “Please don’t think I am Marie Antoinette comparing apples to onions. I am trying to draw attention to how prices fluctuate due to market forces.”