Bharatiya Janata Party president Nitin Gadkari on Sunday accused the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance Government of “pledging” food security with foreign multinational companies and commodity exchange players resulting in food inflation crossing 20 per cent depriving poorer sections of even a square meal a day.
Addressing presspersons, Mr. Gadkari charged the Centre with importing edible oil, foodgrains and sugar at the cost of the farmers and poor consumers. Debunking the claim of the Union Government that it was maintaining food security, he said while farmers were getting Rs. 9 to Rs. 10 a kg for rice and Re. 1 to Rs. 1.50 a kg for wheat in the last three years, the common man was getting rice at Rs. 32 a kg, wheat at Rs. 24 a kg and sugar at Rs. 45 to Rs.50 a kg.
Mr. Gadkari, accompanied by Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa, State BJP president K.S. Eshwarappa, his predecessor D.V. Sadananda Gowda and general secretary H.N. Ananth Kumar, he said the prices of dalda, tur dal, milk, kerosene and other commodities had more than trebled. He said while the consumption of edible oil was 160 lakh tonnes, 75 lakh tonnes was imported during 2008-09, which showed 55 per cent dependence on imports.
He said that price of tur dal, which was Rs. 24 a kg, went up to Rs. 100 a kg and wondered how could a common man could afford to have dal and roti. On the use of bio-fuels, he said that the Union Government could have saved Rs.2 lakh crore on petroleum products by encouraging ethanol. Taking the Centre to task for not creating a buffer stock of sugar and other foodgrains, he alleged that it gave subsidy to sugar exporters.
The BJP leader said prices rose whenever the Congress was in power, even though the country witnessed bumper crops with Food Corporation of India godowns overflowing with grains. During the NDA-BJP tenure, he said there was no scarcity of any commodity. All the leaders/Ministers in the UPA were speaking in different tones and no one was sincere in checking price rise and instead 17 essential commodities were shifted to commodity exchanges.
He said that the BJP was organising a national campaign in New Delhi and he would consult other Opposition parties on exerting pressure on the Centre to act immediately.