Special Correspondent

UPA government has not maintained buffer stock of wheat: Rajnath

“Chidambaram yet to explain how he arrived at Rs. 60,000-crore figure”

CHENNAI: The Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government at the Centre should bear the full responsibility for the present food crisis and inflation, Bharatiya Janata Party president Rajnath Singh said on Tuesday.

Demanding that the government come out with a White Paper on inflation, Mr. Singh, who was the Agriculture Minister in the later part of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance government at the Centre, told reporters here that the UPA government had not maintained an adequate buffer stock of wheat from July 2005 to January 2008 for which data were available now, whereas the NDA government had done so. In fact, then, many criticised the NDA regime for building huge stocks of wheat and rice, but that saved the country then and even later.

Though grain production fell to 174 million tonnes in 2002-2003 against the normal production of 200 million tonnes, there was no inflation or shortage of foodgrains because the then NDA government had built up a stock of 65 million tonnes. The country exported 12.46 million tonnes of wheat and rice that year and 10.3 million tonnes the next year, the BJP leader said. It was the failure of the UPA government to procure adequate grain in 2004-2005 that led to shortage in 2005.

On the farm loan waiver, Mr. Singh said Union Finance Minister P. Chidambaram was yet to tell the country how he had arrived at the figure of Rs. 60,000 crore. According to some reports, the amount of waiver involved only Rs. 23,000 crore.

On the BJP’s poor showing in the recent byelections in Uttar Pradesh, Mr. Singh acknowledged that his party was behind the Bahujan Samaj Party and the Samajwadi Party in that State. The BJP leader demanded that the UPA government tell the nation the progress made by the Multi-Disciplinary Monitoring Agency, set up to probe the conspiratorial angle to the assassination of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.