New Delhi: Union Steel Minister Minister Beni Prasad Verma has stoked a controversy with his comment that inflation is good for farmers and they will benefit from rising prices.
Taking to reporters at Barbanki on Sunday, Verma had said, “Dal, wheat, rice, vegetables have become expensive. The farmer will gain profits from this and I am happy with the rise in prices.”
He said media was making a hue and cry about increasing prices. "Media kehti hai ki khane ki thali mehngi ho gayi hai...Isse fayada kisano ka hai, aur sarkar kisano ke fayda ki pachdhar hai" (Media says that cost of food plate has increased but it is benefiting farmers...And the government is in favour of farmers' profit)," he said.
On Mulayam Singh' statement of third front government at the Centre in 2014 if SP won 60 seats in UP, Beni said, “The Samajwadi Party leader was dreaming of becoming Prime Minister but it would not happen".
At a time when the ruling Congress is under tremendous pressure over rising prices and slow growth rate, such statement from a Cabinet minister will surely create trouble for the Congress in Parliament.
Defending Beni’s statement, Union Law Minister Salman Khurshid said the comments should be viewed in the right context.
"If the farmer gets a good price for his yield, then it is inevitable that market prices will also go up," he said, adding that Prime Minister's economic advisers as well as the Planning Commission are there to deal with such issues and keep a check on inflation.
If the recent steps taken by the Government, including cut in interest rates are viewed holistically, then one will understand the context in which the minister made his remarks, Khurshid said.
Meanwhile, a massive controversy has erupted across political party circles over the Congress leader’s statement.
Reacting to Verma’s statement, Samajwadi Party leader Mohan Singh said that if Verma is not removed from the Cabinet post, his party might well think of breaking the alliance with the ruling Congress.
Another SP leader Azam Khan said that Congress leader Sonia Gandhi should take note of Verma's remarks
Also grabbing the opportunity to hit the Congress, principle Opposition party, Bharatiya Janata Party, said that such statements from a Union Minister reflects government’s thinking towards rising prices.
BJP leader Shahnawaz Hussain said that though the government maintains it is for the common man, the minister's remark showed it has "actually moved far away from the people".
However, BJP leader Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi was more critical, saying the government was the "Mogambo" or villain of price rise. He was referring to a popular portrayal of a villain from a Hindi film.
"The government is the mehengai ka Mogambo. It is certain that when prices rise, when there is unemployment and farmers commit suicide... then it is but natural that the mehengai ka Mogambo will be happy," Naqvi told reporters.
In a bid to corner the Congress, Bahujan Samajwadi Party (BSP) said the ruling party has made a joke of rising prices.
First Published: Monday, August 20, 2012, 11:32