"The price of onions has increased once again. It is becoming very difficult for the common man to survive. Modi is not doing anything for the welfare of citizens. They are just increasing prices again and again", an angry resident said.
On Monday, petrol, diesel price was hiked by State oil marketing companies adding to the cup of woes of common people, who are really finding themselves on receiving end. This was close on the heels of rail fare hike by 14.2 and freight rate by 6.5 per cent.
UPA faced humiliating defeat in 2014 election due to inflation
Price rise was a major issue during Lok Sabha election and erstwhile UPA Government was routed out of power because of its failure to take required steps in the direction. Prime Minister Narendra Modi repeatedly blamed economist Manmohan Singh and its Ministers for not doing enough but now onus is upon them to live up to expectations of people. The Modi Government is now in UPA's shoes and every action of it will be closely watched. As election in some crucial States including Delhi are due, the BJP has to solve the crisis, otherwise, it will might have to face the dire consequences as it faced in 1998.
Although Government has taken some measures recently including export restrictions on certain farm commodities to contain the prices but it has not borne fruits yet. Seeing the gravity of the issue, the Prime Minister has called the meetings of State Food and Consumer Affairs Ministers on July 4.
Onion price responsible for defeat of many Governments
Electorally, onion prices have been very significant issue as it has caused the downfall of many Central and State Governments in the past. After ruling for a decade, the UPA faced humiliating defeat in 2014 election because of inflation. The UPA got lowest tally in history after the emergency. In 1998 Delhi Assembly election, the BJP faced defeat at the hand of the Congress on the issue. Onion price was around 40-50 per kg at that time. Although Sushma Swaraj, who was then at helm of affairs did her best and facilitated the availability in concessional rate through Fair Price Shops but it didn't go down well with people and Swaraj was shown the door. The Congress had got 52 seats while the BJP could only manage 15. Similarly, in 2003, Congress Governments in States like Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, and Chhattisgarh faced the consequences. As onion price is hitting new record everyday, it will might repeat history for the BJP in forthcoming State election.
What Government is doing
Government is blaming low monsoon and hoarding a major reason for skyrocketing price rise. Opposition, who always in the lookout to corner Government saying party has failed completely on the front. Although it will be unfair to say that Prime Minister Modi and his Ministers have failed as they have taken some majors in the direction. In an attempt to cracking big on hoarders, over 35,000 raids have been conducted in Gujarat and Tamil Nadu. Around 6,223 people have been arrested since January in this regard. Taking cognizance of the issue, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has directed Consumer Affairs Secretary Keshav Desiraju to write to Chief Secretaries of all states regarding what steps they have taken to control the crisis.
"Needless to say, the rise in prices of onion has been a matter of great concern with the Government. Several steps have been taken recently to bring under control the rise in prices of this essential item," Desiraju said.
Earlier in an attempt to curb rising price, the Government imposed a minimum export price on onions of $300 per tonne from $150 per tonne. Recently, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley announced de-listing of fruits and vegetables from the APMC Act to tackle the perennial issue inflation. Agricultural Produce Market Committees (APMCs) is the State machinery which facilitates farmers to sell their produce and get reasonable prices. The Government is also planning to facilitate the supply at subsidised rate at Delhi metro stations and community centers.
It seems it is a tough task for the Modi Government but then he has always accepted challenges to his stride and came out victorious.This time also he will prove his detractors wrong.