No meeting ground between Left, govt on price rise

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New Delhi, Apr 18 (UNI) Dubbing as" totally unconvincing" the reply of the government on abnormal price rise and galloping inflation, the Left parties today warned that the situation could not be allowed for long and that their opposition on the issue had gone much ahead.

Determined to continue their agitation on the crucial issue, the top leaders of the CPI(M) and CPI said they would mobilise more and more people's support and political parties to force the government to accept their demands- mainly putting a ban on futures trading and universalisation of the PDS to rein in the price rise and three-year-high inflation.

The political observers and analysts also foresee bigger confrontation between the supporting Left and the UPA government as the latter might not accede to their demands because the market norms do not allow it.

CPI leaders A B Bardhan and Shamim Faizi said explanations offered by Finance Minister P Chidambaram and Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar during discussion on the issue " in Parliament are totally unsatisfactory," and are devoid of the ground reality.

The prices of essential commodities had hit the roof due to government's policy of futures trading, unlimited hoarding and weakening of the Public Distribution System, the CPI leaders said.

CPI(M) leaders Brinda Karat and Basudeb Acharia deplored that the government had not responded to their demands." This is why we have staged walkouts in the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha." The Left leaders listed their suggestions and demands- strengthening of the PDS by universalisation of it; restoration of cut in foodgrain allocations to the states under the PDS, inclusion of 15 essential commodities including pulses, edible oils and sugar in the PDS; cutting customs and excise duties on oil and reduction of retail prices of petrol and diesel.

Mr Bardhan, the CPI General Secretary, said if the government was really serious about containing the price rise, it should strengthen the provisions of the Essential Commodities Act to empower states to deal with hoarding and black-marketing and ban the entry of the multinational companies( MNCs) in grains, vegetables and fruits trade and universalise the PDS.

" Things can not be allowed for long. Soon the Left parties will meet to discuss the political consequences," added Mr Faizi, CPI national Secretary.

Ms Karat said the abnormal prices of essential commodities had increased the requirement of universalisation of the PDS." How can the government cut PDS quota of foodgrains for Kerala from 17 lakh metric tonnes to just 21000 tonnes? This is extremely unjustified.'' Ms Karat, the party Rajya Sabha MP, said the Left parties alongwith other parties will force the government to accept their demands and take "appropriate measures." Mr Acharia, CPI(M) Floor leader in the Lok Sabha, said Mr Pawar just sidetracked the" serious and most burning issue" before the naiton.

Mr Pawar not only politely turned down the Left's demand for universalisation of the PDS but also did not make any" committment or an assurance" on the issue of banning futures trading, the Left leaders added.

While the Left parties have already launched a week-long nationwide agitation against price rise from April 16, they are also the co-sponsors of a National Convention on price rise, being held here tomorrow.


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