Staff Reporter

Mumbai: The Bharatiya Janata Party has unveiled plans to stage countrywide protests against the “burning issue” of price rise.

Between January 18 to 20, the BJP will mobilise people at the district and taluka levels. In February, protests will be organised in the State capitals, culminating in a gherao of the Parliament in early March, party spokesperson Prakash Javadekar said in a press conference here on Monday. The protests will be aimed at “waking up the government and taking people’s voice” to the echelons of power.

Criticising Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar’s statement that he was not an astrologer to predict when prices would fall, Mr. Javadekar said such irresponsible statements will give an impetus to inflationary forces.

“We don’t need the government to tell us that prices are going to rise. The government’s job is to tell us how inflation is going to be contained,” he said.

The policies of the United Progressive Alliance, namely allowing private companies to buy grain, import-export policies, refusal to heed to the M.S. Swaminathan Committee recommendations on remunerative prices for farmers and the dismantling of the public distribution system were chiefly responsible for the dire situation, Mr. Javadekar contended.

He said sugar prices were skyrocketing despite sugar production being 240 lakh tonnes as against the demand of 220 lakh tonnes. “Nine months ago Mr. Pawar said we had enough sugar to last two years. We exported four lakh tonnes of sugar at the rate of Rs.12 and we are now importing the same at Rs.33. What kind of a policy is this?”

The BJP leader said the forthcoming protests would be spearheaded by the who’s who of the party, namely, national president Nitin Gadkari, ex-president Rajnath Singh, L.K. Advani, Venkaiah Naidu, Sushma Swaraj and other regional leaders.