If you can't manage the price situation, quit, we will show the way: Sushma

Stressing that it was time the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government accepted its failure in controlling spiralling inflation, the Opposition in the Lok Sabha on Thursday said they were willing to show the path and demanded that the government should quit if it was unable to rectify the situation.

Leader of the Opposition Shushma Swaraj and JD(U) chief Sharad Yadav offered their services, but the former went one step ahead and said: “If you can't manage the situation, quit. We will show the way.”

Mr. Yadav said the government should accept its failure and call the Opposition parties and seek their advice to control the persisting inflation.

While initiating the debate, CPI leader Gurudas Dasgupta said the government should seek the cooperation of the House in stemming the rot. The government had breached parliamentary mandate by not complying with the resolution adopted in the House when it last discussed the issue on August 4, necessitating another debate.

Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee will reply to the debate on Friday, but during a brief intervention he said inflation had come down by almost half to 6.6 per cent and countered that he was well aware of the situation during the NDA's six-year tenure.

Mr. Dasgupta warned the government should not take satisfaction in the seasonal respite in inflation numbers, saying the general panorama of sky high prices had not been liquidated. The government inaction was as persisting as the incessant inflation and central to the debate was the abject failure of the government to implement the resolution adopted in the last session of the House.

He said that while prices had more than doubled over the past decade, the price of whiskey had not gone up at all. “Roti mat khao peete jao (Don't eat roti, keep drinking),” seemed to be the motto of the government.

Underscoring the paradox of inflation, he said that while inflation remained at high levels farmers in Maharashtra were committing suicide and the peasants were totally ruined.

Ms. Swaraj reeled out prices at the kendriya bhandar to ridicule the claim of the Planning Commission that those earning more than Rs.32 in the urban areas and Rs.26 in the rural areas on a daily basis were above the poverty level, drawing cries of “shame, shame” from the Opposition benches.

She said the two non-Congress governments in 1977 and 1998 had successfully contained inflation and prices had remained stable while presently farmers in Andhra Pradesh were talking of crop holiday and cotton growers in Maharashtra committing suicide.

“The country is going where you are taking it. The CAG has unearthed six big scams. You should display exasperation. That is not what the people are expecting from you. They have given you the responsibility to deliver. You have to find a way. If you can't, quit. We'll show the way.”

Mr. Yadav said the inflation rate was the highest in India compared to other countries and questioned the logic of expecting monetary measures to do the trick when black money exceeded white money.

He said the “coterie” of Manmohan Singh, P.Chidambaram and Montek Singh knew little about the country and could not be expected to control prices. He said it was time the government accepted that it had failed and invited the Opposition to find a solution together.

Among the allies supporting the government, DMK member T.K.S. Elangovan indirectly attacked it by reading out various reports, including that of the U.N. to state that the situation was alarming and India was among the countries most impacted by rising prices. He said the government had been lackadaisical in containing food prices.

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