The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Sunday demanded the dismissal of Union Agriculture, Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution Minister Sharad Pawar for his inability to hold the price line of essential commodities for several years in a row.
In a statement issued here, BJP spokesman Ravi Shankar Prasad heaped blame on the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government for runaway prices but singled out Mr. Pawar to bear the brunt of the party’s criticism. What has drawn the BJP’s ire this time round is a reported comment of Mr. Pawar that he would resign if anyone guaranteed rains in every district of the country and lower prices.
While the statement seeks to remind the government about Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s promise that prices would be brought down within 100 days of UPA-II, the BJP has sought to pin responsibility on Mr. Pawar for the ‘rice scam’, ‘wheat scam’, ‘sugar scam’ and ‘pulses scam.’
In the case of wheat, the BJP said there has been a 300 per cent rise in prices over the past six years. Rice prices went up by 500 per cent, sugar by 250 per cent and pulses witnessed a 400 per cent increase. “Are these not scams” is the BJP’s question demanding a CBI probe into the matter.
The BJP attack on Mr. Pawar comes on the heels of the Congress maintaining its pressure on the Minister on the price issue in a bid to distance the party from the flak the government is drawing for essential commodities becoming dearer by the day.
Some sections in the Congress are using the issue to reiterate an old demand that Mr. Pawar should not be presiding over three ministries even as they realise that the compulsions of coalition politics will make it difficult to get the Minister to agree to shed some of his responsibilities.