The Communist Party of India (Marxist) has blamed corporates and big traders for the galloping food price inflation that has crossed 19 per cent and said it has exposed the UPA government’s failure.

“The galloping food prices are primarily being caused by corporates and big traders, who are utilising shortage for hoarding and reckless profiteering. The government has lost control over food prices owing its pursuit of free market policies,” the party’s Polit Bureau said in a statement.

It said the food price inflation crossed 19 per cent in the week ending November 28. The inflation rate stood at 15.5 per cent in mid-November and 13.3 per cent at the end of October. The food price inflation was accelerating, with prices of vegetables (especially potatoes and onions), pulses and cereals rising registering the steepest hike. Over 50 paisa in every rupee spent by an average Indian a day was spent on food, and more than 60 per cent of the population was spending less than Rs. 20 a head a day.

“The intense suffering of the masses in the face of galloping food prices cannot be overemphasised. India is the only major developing economy where prices are rising. In the backdrop of the global recession, food and fuel prices have been falling across all countries. This exposes the failure and callousness of the Congress-led government,” the party said.

Seeks crackdown

The CPI(M) demanded that the Centre launch a nationwide crackdown on hoarding and black-marketing, in coordination with the State governments, and make it mandatory for all private traders of food articles to disclose their stocks and release surplus stocks.

It demanded that futures trading in all food articles be immediately banned; that the Centre release cereal stocks through the public distribution system by increasing the rice and wheat quotas for the States; and that the Food Security legislation be tabled without any further delay. Sugar, pulses and edible oils must be supplied through the PDS outlets at cheap rates, it said.

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