Govt in Opposition’s line of fire on price rise
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Last Updated: Wednesday, August 03, 2011, 23:44
New Delhi: Government on Wednesday came under attack in the Lok Sabha over rising prices with the opposition questioning the efficacy of steps to address the problem but ruling Congress countered the charge by attributing inflation to global conditions.

Leading the opposition charge, former Finance Minister and BJP leader Yashwant Sinha contended the situation had become unbearable for common people and reached a stage where the government has to be told to 'Go, for God's sake, Go'.

Initiating the debate on rising prices, he slammed the government's argument that high growth will entail inflation, saying such a growth was not acceptable to people.

"We will not accept inflation of more than three per cent," he said after moving a resolution on price rise.

The opposition had been pressing for a discussion on price rise in the backdrop of the inflation which stood at 9.4 per cent in June and is likely to remain high till November.

Hitting out at Congress which came to power on the 'aam aadmi' plank, Sinha alleged government policies have helped profiteers, blackmarketeers, hoarders and the corrupt to "loot" the common man of an additional Rs six lakh crore in the past three years.

Defending the government, Law Minister Salman Khurshid attributed high inflation to increasing prices of crude oil in the international market.

The government had taken a number of fiscal measures like reducing import duties, suspended futures trading in rice and certain pulses to rein in prices, he said.

Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee will reply to the debate tomorrow.

"We totally reject the theory that growth is required at any cost. Growth for what? To dispossess the poor and push them further into the vortex of poverty? The poorest of the poor at the bottom strata of our society does not understand high GDP growth at 8-9 per cent," Yashwant Sinha said.

"As Oliver Cromwell told a British Prime Minister in his time 'Go, for God's sake. In the name of God, Go, Go', this House will tell you the same and will not tolerate" if the government failed to check rising prices, the BJP leader said referring to the famous words of the English statesman to Parliament in 1653.

Making a strong plea for firmly bringing corruption under control, Sinha was critical of the anti-poverty schemes including UPA's flagship NREGA saying there were massive irregularities in its implementation.

"In such a situation, you will not be able to control prices," he said, adding faulty implementation of schemes like NREGA would lead to corruption and conspicuous consumption.

He criticised moves to bring FDI in retail sector, warning it was "fraught with dangerous consequences" for the country as US companies like WalMart were known to have "destroyed" farmers and small retailers in the US and Mexico.

Khurshid admitted inflation was on the rise since December last year but attributed it to the increase in the petroleum prices globally.

He said several other growing economies like Sri Lanka, China, Russia and Argentina were also witnessing high inflation in the range of six to 20 per cent.

Dismissing the opposition charge that the government was pursuing growth at any cost, Khurshid said "we have learnt a great deal from the Prime Minister on growth strategies but we have never heard the concept of 'growth at any rate'.


First Published: Wednesday, August 03, 2011, 09:14

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