Agri ministry has a responsibility to check price rise: Cong

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New Delhi, Jan 18 (PTI) Congress today said theAgriculture ministry headed by Sharad Pawar has aresponsibility to check soaring food prices and also askedstate governments to take action against middlemen to help theCentre in curbing inflation.

Congress'' reaction comes after Pawar stated that healone was not responsible for price rise.

"I don''t think that was the essence of the AgricultureMinister''s statement," party spokesperson Manish Tewari toldreporters in reply to a question that Pawar had blamed theentire government for price rise.

Tewari at the same time said, "As far as control ofprice rise is concerned, his department and his ministry has aresponsibility", but quickly added "only the centralgovernment does not check price rise. It is also the stategovernments'' responsibilities to take steps as prices havemany times risen due to middlemen".

On Sunday, Pawar had said in Pune that it was "notright" to blame his ministry for the rising prices, sayingpolicies to control inflation were discussed and formulated atthe "highest level" involving the participation of PrimeMinister and Finance Minister.

On the petrol price hike, Tewari said that a middle pathhad to be found out so that neither common man suffered due tocascading effect of fuel price hike nor economy was affected.

Asked about BJP leader Lal Krishna Advani''s attack onthe government on the issue of brining back Indian moneystashed away in Swiss Bank, Tewari said the BJP leader shouldinstead respond to Congress question on his association withKushabhau Thakre Trust in Madhya Pradesh, which was allottedland worth Rs 60 crore on an annual rent of Rs 1.

"If any fact about the issue has in public about Swissaccount, it is because it has been pursued by UPA governmentand not the NDA government," Tewari claimed when asked tocomment on BJP''s attack on the government on the issue.

Tewari, however, said that BJP should stop its doublespeak and stop its "running commentary" on the issue as it isset to come up for hearing in the court soon.

Asked about a group of prominent personalities includingindustrialists in an open letter addressed to leadersyesterday expressing concern over a series of scams leading to"governance deficit", Tewari said the essence of the letterwas already conveyed by Congress President Sonia Gandhi duringthe party plenary in Burari last month.

"It is responsibility of every government structure tokeep on re-inventing itself to meet such challenges," he said,adding that Gandhi''s five-point measure unveiled during theparty session had already summed up the essence of the letter.

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