"Steps to control inflation not enough"

Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI: Political parties supporting the Government as well as those in the Opposition have said the steps taken to control the "runaway" inflation were not enough.

The parties are not impressed by the cut in petrol and diesel prices and they feel this would not have any effect on rising prices of essential food items.

The Communist Party of India on Friday joined the CPI (M) and the Nationalist Congress Party in mounting pressure on the Government to control the "runaway" price rise.

Announcing its plans to take to the streets, the CPI said the Government should scrap forward trading in food grains and other essential commodities, check hoarding, restore and strengthen the public distribution system, and effectively implement the Essential Commodities Act.

The Bharatiya Janata Party's view was not very different. The party spokesperson Prakash Javadekar blamed lack of timely interventions by the Government, such as import of pulses announced on Thursday and a ban on export of wheat a few days ago, for the increase in prices of these articles used daily by the common man.

"Four to be blamed"

Mr. Javadekar said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and at least three Ministers Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar, Commerce Minister Kamal Nath and Finance Minister P. Chidambaram were directly responsible.

Dr. Singh was too busy with India-Pakistan affairs; Mr. Pawar was too involved in cricket and its politics, and Mr. Nath spent more time thinking about special economic zones than announcing timely imports and banning export of food items that would ensure an adequate supply for the domestic market, he said.

As for Mr. Chidambaram, he said the Minister was trying to manipulate demand by curtailing money supply but had done nothing to ensure there were no shortages that pushed prices upward.

The CPI pointed out that the 9 per cent economic growth was not bringing any cheer to the average Indian burdened by rising inflation.

A statement issued by the party placed on record the fact that the Government had turned a deaf ear to all its earlier warnings, including the need to reduce prices of petroleum products.

The party welcomed the cut in petrol and diesel prices but described the move a "belated cut" that was unlikely to curb inflation to any appreciable extent.

On the spiralling prices of essential commodities, the party said: "To shrug it off as a temporary phenomenon, as the minions of the Finance Ministry are doing, is both naive and dishonest." Future trading in food grains and other essential commodities had allowed private business and multinationals to indulge in hoarding and thrive on high inflation, the party said.

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