Neena Vyas

NEW DELHI: The Bharatiya Janata Party on Friday hit out at Finance Minister P. Chidambaram, saying he should find out the cost of essential commodities by visiting the markets.

The party was responding to a statement by Mr. Chidambaram that picked holes in the party’s economic resolution adopted at the national executive committee meeting on June 1 and 2.

BJP spokesman Ravi Shankar Prasad said: “Mr. Chidambaram should go to the markets and find out the prices and how the current inflation was torturing every segment of the population.”

The party, however, maintained silence over the Minister’s charge that contrary to a “misinformation” campaign by the Opposition party, inflation during the National Democratic Alliance regime ranged between 6 and 7 per cent for almost a whole year and was over 8 per cent for three months in 2000-01.

“Truths ignored”

The Minister had alleged that the resolution was not based on hard economic data and the BJP had ignored truths that could not be wished away: the average Gross Domestic Product growth during the six years of the BJP-led government was 5.8 per cent. It touched a low of 3.8 per cent in 2002-03 and 4.4 per cent in 2000-01.

Mr. Prasad’s counter-charge was that now it was over 12 weeks of comparatively high inflation rates and the government seemed to have lost control. The Manmohan Singh-led government should quit and own up responsibility for “the gross mismanagement of the food economy.”

Mr. Prasad referred to the latest inflation figure of 8.24 per cent for the week ending May 24, up from 8.1 per cent the previous week.

The BJP refused to argue with the statistics spelt out by the Minister that included an over 3 per cent growth in agriculture production. Instead, Mr. Prasad warned that the cascading effect of the recent increase in the prices of petroleum products would take inflation into double-digit figures before too long.

If the government and its Prime Minister were helpless to control inflation, then they should quit, he said.