The Bharatiya Janata Party plans a twin-campaign to corner the Centre on the issue of price rise of essential commodities.
It will ‘gherao’ Parliament on April 21, when it will be in session, and submit five crore signatures collected from all over the country to President Pratibha Patil.
At the end of the party’s three-day conclave here on Friday, BJP president Nitin Gadkari said he expected a 15-lakh strong rally to surround Parliament. Five crore signatures, against the government’s economic policies that hurt the poorest segments, would be collected. Party workers at the booth level would go door to door for the signature campaign.
‘Mahangai roko ya gaddi chodo’ (stop the inflation or quit) is the slogan that party leader Sushma Swaraj has given for this mass agitation.
This was also the focus of a public rally here later in the evening, when Mr. Gadkari asked the people to come to Delhi to participate in the agitation.
He said the country was happy to see an economist Prime Minister in place. But while the Congress talked about eradicating poverty, the poor people were themselves fighting a battle to get their daily bread. The promises of cheap rice and wheat made by the Congress were not kept, he said.
Mr. Gadkari repeated his earlier charge that forward trading in cereals and sugar resulted in multi-crore profits for multinationals and higher prices of these essential commodities.
Party leaders also compared the situation to the BJP-led government’s tenure, when the food prices were more or less stable. Mr. Gadkari said that whenever the Congress ruled, there was high inflation.
A resolution moved by the former Union Finance Minister, Yashwant Sinha, and adopted by the party’s National Council, also focussed on the subject, one of three issues identified by the BJP. The other two are Kashmir and the India-Pakistan dialogue.
The resolution said that despite tall claims, the government did not have the political will to fight inflation, agriculture had been neglected, farmers’ suicides were continuing, and a scam of major proportions could be smelt in the way sugar was exported at a low price and imported at high prices. It demanded a joint parliamentary committee to go into this.
It charged the government with spending crores of rupees to win elections and said the fiscal deficit was the result of this. Mr. Sinha said there was a co-relation between the money spent and the seats won by the Congress in the 2009 elections.
He said the Indian economy had gone into a downturn well before the global financial crisis erupted in September 2009. The government could not handle the over-heating of the economy as a result of the excess liquidity in the system contributed largely by foreign inflows. The government had “destroyed the equilibrium of the economy,” he said. Between 2004 and 2009, the UPA celebrated high growth, but did not put in place policies that would meet the challenges of faster growth.