UPA may pay a price for inflation: FM

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New Delhi, Jun 26: Finance Minister P Chidambaram said that inflation would remain in the realm of double digit for some more time and felt that high prices could impact the prospects of the UPA in the general elections due next year.

In an interview to CNN-IBN, Mr Chidambaram spoke about the political storm that had gathered on the issue of runaway inflation and admitted that this would adversly impact the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) in the next general elections. Q: Last week we got the first 11 per cent shock. On Friday, you will get the first inflation figure after that shock. Do you expect it to go to 12 per cent? A: Difficult to say, it will stay in double digit for some more weeks.

Q: Could inflation hit 13 per cent? A: I don't know, I can't guess the figure.

Q: You face a National Election in perhaps nine months time. I put it to you, with inflation rate where it is and with inflation rate wobbling, whenever that campaign starts the UPA is going to start as the most likely loser.

A: Well that's a premature conclusion, we will be on the defensive on inflation, but as I said - all politics is about communication, we must communicate to the people - why prices are high, and the efforts we are taking to moderate it.

Mr Chidambaram answered a host of questions pertaining to the subject of inflation-- how it will rise, when it will come down, whether enough was being done to curtail it and whether the government was late in responding to the international price increases and whether there would be further hike in petrol and petroleum products if internal crude oil prices continue to move Northwards.

The Minister was also questioned about the political implications of his handling the economy and in particular the widespread belief that his management has effectively assured that whenever elections are held the UPA will start the campaign as the most likely loser.

UNI

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