Gargi Parsai

NEW DELHI: The Congress is on the back foot over the spurt in inflation and prices of essential commodities and vegetables. The inflation rate hit seven per cent on Friday.

“There is no magic wand [to bring down prices immediately],” Congress spokesman Abhishek Singhvi said here.

On the CPI(M)’s demand for a universal Public Distribution System and Petroleum Minister Murli Deora’s suggestion that the excise duty on petrol and diesel be cut, Mr. Singhvi said not all proposals could be accepted.

Fielding questions on price rise, Mr. Singhvi said it would take a few weeks for the recent fiscal measures to produce results on the ground. When some journalists persisted, he said, “I am not an astrologer.”

Mr. Singhvi was asked why the Congress-led State governments were not coming down on hoarders and speculators instead of the Congress blaming States for not implementing the anti-hoarding notification under the Essential Commodities Act that might have created supply-side shortages. He said no other government had taken such measures as banning futures trading in essential commodities.