Under criticism from the ‘aam admi’ for rise in the prices of essential commodities, the Congress on Friday sought to put the blame on the State governments for failing to contain inflation.
Responding to queries from reporters, Congress spokesperson Shakeel Ahmed said, the party wanted the Centre to control prices so that the people did not face any hardship but the States should also take steps in this direction.
“We want the government to take steps to control prices but it is clear that the States have failed to check the rising prices, be it the Congress, Bharatiya Janata Party or any other party-ruled States,” he said. Strict action must be taken against hoarders and black-marketeers, the spokesperson added.
When reminded that it was the Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar himself hinting at the likely rise in the prices of sugar, Mr. Ahmed said it was the National Democratic Alliance government that had decided to allow forward trading and totally destroyed the Public Distribution System. “Systems can be demolished instantly but it takes several years to re-build and put them in place,” he said when pointed out that the Congress had been in power for six years now.
“We have had 23 per cent shortfall in monsoon as a result of, which the production has also gone down. It is the bumper production of the earlier years that has saved us from a food grain crisis,” he said. Some steps were taken but there were some issues, which were beyond the governmental control, he said.
The Congress, he said, was “deeply concerned” about the issue, which was affecting the common man and it was out of this concern that the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh discussed the issue with the Planning Commission Deputy Chairman earlier this week, Mr Ahmed said. He rejected the charge that the party was not concerned with the price rise now as it was not an election issue any longer.