Senior NCP leader and Union Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel today came out in strong defence of his party president and Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar on the criticism of price rise in the country.

Terming the price rise as unfortunate, Mr. Patel told reporters in an informal chat here that the whole issue was politicised by some section of politicians and Mr. Pawar was being cornered. He categorically denied that Mr. Pawar was criticised by Prime Minister.

“None of the top Congress leaders or ministers has blamed Mr. Pawar for the price rise,” he said adding that all decisions are taken on controlling prices by the Cabinet Committee and it’s a collective decision, he said.

Mr. Patel said this year there was a huge drop in production of pulses all over the world and only 50 million tonnes was available and India has imported 35 MT. Price rise is not a new thing, he said.

On separate Vidarbha issue, Mr. Patel said his party’s stand was quite clear and party was in strong favour of creation of Vidarbha. To a question, he said it will happen only when Congress takes a decision on creation of smaller states.

“NCP and our president Sharad Mr. Pawar has time and again have expressed their views on statehood to Vidarbha,” he added.

He said NCP state leaders and ministers from Vidarbha region may join the all-party delegation which was likely to meet central leaders in Delhi shortly.

“Being a Central Minister I can not be a part of the delegation, but will extend all support to Vidarbha issue,” Mr. Patel added.

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