Even as Parliament witnessed a week-long logjam over price rise, Congress President Sonia Gandhi has justified the hike in fuel prices saying it was “necessary” and has been done for increasing the availability of funds for social sector schemes.

“An increase in prices is never a pleasant thing.

However, this has been done for a number of reasons including increasing the availability of funds for our social sector schemes,” Ms. Gandhi said in her message to Congressmen in party mouthpiece ‘Congress Sandesh

Ms. Gandhi also sought to turn the tables on the NDA which criticised the government on this issue, saying, “While the NDA raised the prices of diesel and petrol 31 and 28 times respectively in their five-year tenure, the UPA kept a close vigil on prices changing it on nine occasions in six years.”

She claimed that UPA throughout its tenure worked to ensure that the ‘aam admi’ (common man) is shielded from the burden of rising oil prices in international market.

“It is important that Congresspersons across the country understand why the current hike was necessary and how the prices was kept to a minimum. This message must be shared with people,” Ms. Gandhi said.

At the AICC briefing, party spokesperson Jayanthi Natarajan said that the efforts undertaken by the government to control inflation are showing results.

“We welcome the fact that food inflation in particular has started showing a downward trend and has gone back to single digit due to serious efforts and policies of the government,” Ms. Natarajan said.

Her remarks came a day when Parliament returned to normal functioning after remaining paralysed for a full week soon after the Monsoon session began. The deadlock occurred due to the opposition’s insistence for a discussion on price rise under a motion which entails voting, which the government did not accept.

The ruling and the opposition parties came to an agreement today after a decision was taken to adopt a resolution in both Houses expressing concern over the impact of inflation on the common man.

Echoing similar concerns, the party spokesperson said Congress is aware that the issue of inflation, particularly of food inflation is “very sensitive” but voiced confidence that “In days and weeks to come, the steps taken by our government will continue to impact prices and bring them down.”

Ms. Natarajan, however, dismissed a suggestion that the resolution being adopted by the government over price is a self-indictment and is contrary to what the party is saying.

“The resolution is in no way an indictment of the government. There is no dichotomy between the resolution and what I say,” she said.

The fact is that food inflation has come down and we welcome this downward trend. It’s not a question of satisfaction (over prices) but a recognition that it has come down,” Ms. Natarajan said replying to a volley of questions.

She at the same time referred to the role of states in checking price spiral, saying joint efforts should be made by the Central and the state governments and all parties should cooperate in taking stern action against hoarders and blackmarketeers so that “the difference between the whole prices and retail prices may be brought to the minimum.”

Asked about the party’s stand on futures trading of commodities, Ms. Natarajan said her party “is not as such against commodity exchange but any such trading that goes against national interests should be banned.

Action should be taken against all those who go against our national concerns,” she added.

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