New Delhi, Oct 22 (UNI) The Congress today said the food riots in Left-ruled West Bengal were a matter of serious concern and reflected the enormous deficiencies in the availability, distribution, pricing and regulatory systems in that State.
''Those who profess concern for the poorest of the poor should immediately set their own house in order. They have to urgently address the legitimate concerns of the deprived and the needy,'' Congress spokeman Abhishek Singhvi said, referring to the CPI (M), a supporting party at the Centre with whom it had differences over the India-US nuclear deal.
''All other slogans, shibboleths and controversies are secondary compared to the basic food needs of the people of West Bengal,'' he told reporters.
Pointing out that it was an anachronism to even talk of food riots in a country which was proud to flaunt a booming economy, he said the Congress and the UPA Government was ready to extend all assistance to the State Government.
''But the State Government can neither abdicate not transfer its vital role and responsibility in that regard.... We hope and trust that an immediate healing touch is provided by those entrusted with this task.'' Hitting out at senior BJP leader L K Advani, Mr Singhvi said Mr Advani's ''crocodile tears'' for enhancement of the MSP for paddy proved that he neither understood the plight of the farmers nor spoke their language.
He said that Mr Advani's Government between 1998 and 2004 had increased the MSP by Rs 60 per quintal in those six years, while ''our Government from 2004 onwards had it raised by Rs 300 per quintal, the highest ever increase''.
''It shows that Mr Advani's lament was opportunistic and hypocritical,'' the Congress spokesman said.
He said the BJP's fake concern was also proved by the fact that last year, the UPA Government had increased the price by more than 105 per quintal.
''Mr Advani is making an untenable, unconnectable and totally illusory equation between wheat and rice in a facile and over simplistic manner,'' he said.