Poor will be protected against price rise: PM

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New Delhi, Nov 17: Acknowledging the concerns over the rise in prices of some essential commodities, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today assured the people that the government would ensure availability of food items at a ''reasonable cost'' to the poor. ''I am aware that many of you are concerned about the prices of certain essential commodities. It will be our constant endeavour to ensure that essential food items are available to the poor and needy at a reasonable cost,'' Dr Singh said in his half-an-hour address delivered in Hindi to the AICC session.

The Prime Minister said the government had managed to keep inflation under control in the face of many difficulties, including the galloping crude prices which had reached almost 100 dollars a barrel, up from about 35 dollars since 2004.

Also, the global prices of foodgrains, pulses and edible oil had seen a sharp rise. ''However, it has been our endeavour to shield our poor and vulnerable sections from the effects of this rise and we have been quite successful in this regard. The wholesale price index is rising by around 3-4 per cent which is the lowest in the last 20 years,'' he said.

Dr Singh focussed his address mainly on the developmental programmes of his government and listed the pro-poor schemes launched by the UPA.

On the controversial Indo-US nuclear deal, he said the averment that the agreement was against India's security interests was a false propaganda. The deal was part of effort to open closed doors so that India could obtain nuclear fuel and technology from the US, Russia, France and other countries and remove the shortage of electricity. ''You need to understand this reality and explain it to our people,'' he asked the party workers.

The 15-point programme for the minorities, launched in the light of the Justice Rajinder Sachar committee report, would improve their lot, he said.

He concluded his address, expressing confidence that young party leaders like Mr Rahul Gandhi ''can truly fulfil the vision of Mahatma Gandhi and Pandit Nehru.''


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