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Updated: January 25, 2010 13:46 IST

Agri ministry should work with States to lower prices: Congress

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A file picture of Agriculture Minister, Sharad Pawar. Photo: Kamal Narang
BL A file picture of Agriculture Minister, Sharad Pawar. Photo: Kamal Narang

After Sharad Pawar’s remark that policy decisions are collectively made by the cabinet including the Prime Minister, Congress on Monday said the Agriculture Ministry headed by him should work proactively with States to lower prices of essential commodities.

“So far as the Congress is concerned, the Union Agriculture Ministry needs to work proactively with the State governments to see that the prices settle down,” Party spokesman Manish Tewari said.

He said this when asked to comment on Mr. Pawar’s remark on Sunday that he was not the only person involved in the price policy.

Mr. Pawar, who is under severe attack from various quarters over the price rise issue, had said in Pune that “the Prime Minister and all of us together decide the price policy. There is an experts’ committee to give guidelines to the cabinet which takes the final decision”.

Mr. Tewari, however, did not find anything wrong in the remark and said, “the Agriculture Minister has only enunciated the correct constitutional position with regard to collective responsibility of the government and parliamentary system.”

At the same time, he maintained, “There is a division of the government in various departments which look at the specific subjects.”

Asked about the blame game between the States and the Centre over the matter, Mr. Tewari said there was no need to interpret this in terms of a war of words or a blame game.

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati had a few days back sought Mr. Pawar’s removal over the issue.

“...there are fiscal and monetary measures that the Union Government takes, which it has already taken. So far as the administration of the Essential Commodities Act and the Public Distribution System is concerned, that is with the State governments,” Mr. Tewari said stressing on the need to arrive at a mechanism between the two to bring down prices.

“Therefore, there is no need to interpret it as ‘A’ being targeted or ‘B’ is being targeted. I don’t think that is the intent,” he said.

“We have a matter of concern at the moment. That concern has to be alleviated by cooperation between both the Centre and the states,” he added.

Accusing the opposition of making an issue out of everything, the Congress leader said the central government needs to be commended for the way it handled the drought situation and the global economic recession.

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