The Communist Party of India (Marxist) on Friday in the Rajya Sabha demanded a ban on futures and forward trading of all agricultural and essential commodities as it asserted that it was one of the reasons for the rise in the prices of food and essential commodities.

The Left parties later walked out of the House, raising slogans against the government's ‘inability' to arrest the rising prices of food and essential commodities.

Manohar Joshi and Sanjay Raut (both Shiv Sena) and Prakash Javadekar (BJP) raised the issue of unabated farmers' suicide in Vidarbha region of Maharashtra as the latest official figures showed.

Mr. Raut said a Joint Parliamentary Committee must investigate why benefits of packages announced by the government were not reaching farmers to stem the tide of suicides. Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar was present when the matter was raised during the zero hour.

Raising the matter of price rise, CPI (M) leader Sitaram Yechury said the government had 275 lakh tonnes of excess foodgrains over and above the buffer norms, which it should distribute by universalising the public distribution system. It should stop futures trading in essential commodities, withdraw tax hike on petrol and diesel and act against companies hoarding essential commodities.

D. Raja (CPI) urged the government to roll back the hike in petrol and diesel prices and not cut subsidies on fertilizer and foodgrain issue price in the PDS.

“If this government is unable to give essential commodities at affordable prices then we will try to change this ineffective government,” said Abani Roy of the Revolutionary Socialist Party.

Earlier, during the question hour, Mr. Pawar said the government had no control over the price charged by roller flour mills from consumers after they bought their quota of wheat from the Food Corporation of India under the Open Market Sale Scheme.

“We give to the highest bidder of roller flour mill. If we were to subsidise millers, we would not be sure that the subsidy would be passed on to the consumers as we have no control over that,” he said in reply to a member who expressed the apprehension that giving open market wheat to the highest bidder would set a higher benchmark price.

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