BJP demands parliamentary probe on price rise

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New Delhi, Feb 25 (ANI): The opposition led by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has demanded a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) probe into the alleged 'food scam' that has led to the increase in prices of essential commodities like wheat, rice, pulses and sugar.

Slammed the Congress led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government for the price rise, Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj said the JPC should probe the export and import of essential commodities, which includes wheat, rice and sugar.

Sushma Swaraj said, "We demand a JPC to enquire into the scams in these four areas. It should find out why such decisions were taken (which led to these scams)."

Referring to the President's address to a Joint Session of Parliament, in which the Centre mentioned a decline in food production, rise in global prices, hike in support prices to farmers and increase in income in rural areas, Swaraj said, "These are not only baseless, but far from truth."

"The actual reasons are scams in wheat, rice, pulses and sugar and all these items are consumed by the vast majority of the poor," she added.

She lashed out at the government for its failure to take appropriate measures to contain food inflation, claiming that though there have been adequate quantities of food grains lying at various ports, effective steps were not taken for their transport, which resulted in a huge loss to the exchequer.

Swaraj said Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh should compare the inflation rate and the growth rate. he Opposition leader also described Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar as the 'Sugar King of India', blaming him directly for the rise in sugar prices.

"It is the result of the failure of the government's economic policies: Wheat, rice, sugar, dal price have doubled in the past few months. The agriculture minister failed to create buffer stocks when we have surplus stock of sugar, said Swaraj.

She demanded a high level probe into the alleged 'sugar scandal', saying Pawar is responsible for all this mess. Since the UPA came to power in 2004, the House has held nine rounds of debate on the issue but prices have gone on rising, claimed Swaraj.

"There has been no respite to the people as prices of essential items have continued to rise all these years and the government has done nothing. The prices have gone beyond the reach of the poor," she added.

Swaraj said the food production in 2009-2010 dropped from a record output of 234 million tonnes in 2008-09 to 216 million tonnes, quoting figures to show that the global food prices did not rise much during the period, but declined in respect of some items.

Swaraj accused the government of giving something to the farmers through one hand, and taking it back with the other by raising urea price by Rs 25.

In the Rajya Sabha, Leader of Opposition Arun Jaitley blamed the lack of co-ordination between various ministries for the high inflation.

"The government failed to take up pre-emptive measures to bridge the gap between demand and supply," said Jaitley.

The opposition attack followed the tabling of the Economic Survey in Parliament today. It warned that overall prices would go up further in the next few months and partially blamed poor food anagement policies for the double-digit food inflation. (ANI)

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