Price rise dominates parliament (Roundup)

New Delhi, Aug 4 (IANS) Soaring food prices generated heat in parliament Wednesday, with the Lok Sabha unanimously urging the government to act and come to the rescue of the common man.

While Sachin Tendulkar’s cricketing feat and the violence raging in the Kashmir Valley also figured in the house, members were mostly concerned over inflationary pressures.

After vocal attacks on what the opposition said was the government’s failure to check food prices, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee put up a spirited defence of what the government was doing — and would do.

The Lok Sabha was adjourned over the Babhali barrage row between Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra. The Telugu Desam Party (TDP) apologized after one of its members shouted at Mukherjee, the leader of the house.

The debate on price rise ended in the Lok Sabha Wednesday with the house adopting a resolution.

‘This House, having considered the inflationary pressure on the economy, urges the government to take further action to contain its adverse impact on the common man,’ said the resolution read out by Speaker Meira Kumar.

It was a tame end to an affair that had stalled the proceedings of parliament all of last week.

Before the resolution was moved, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Sushma Swaraj moaned that Mukherjee had not announced any steps to contain the spiralling prices of essential commodities.

‘Not a single reform has been announced,’ she said. She chided the finance minister for equating growth rate and inflation.

Mukherjee said the public must appreciate that certain factors like supply shortfall and hoarding were beyond the central government’s control.

He said the central and state governments needed to act together.

Touching upon the hikes in prices of petroleum products,

Mukherjee said in his 50-minute reply that the perpetual increases in international crude oil price had forced the government to hike the prices of petroleum products. Reducing tax was not a solution, he said.

Initiating the debate in the Rajya Sabha, BJP’s Arun Jaitley said India’s economic policies were impacting the credibility of the economists who run the country. The remark was aimed at economist-turned-politician Manmohan Singh, the prime minister.

Congress member Jayanthi Natarajan accused the opposition of politicizing the price rise.

Blaming the opposition for wasting a week of the session, she said: ‘Some estimates say Rs.40 crore was wasted, some estimates say Rs.70 crore was wasted.’

Communist Party of India-Marixist leader Sitaram Yechury said the government’s claims of giving highest priority to food prices had not been fulfilled.

Calling for higher public investment in agriculture, particularly irrigation, he demanded that the prices of petroleum products should be rolled back.

Members of TDP and the Shiva Sena protested in the Lok Sabha over the Babhali barrage row, forcing its adjournment for half hour in the morning.

As the house convened at 11 a.m., the TDP members moved towards Meira Kumar shouting slogans.

Shiv Sena members also became vocal, forcing the speaker to adjourn the house.

The house witnessed unpleasant scenes when it reassembled. Mukherjee reqiested the TDP MPs to return to their seats. A furious TDP MP Naramalli Sivaprasad shouted at Mukherjee, forcing another adjournment.

When the house reassembled, TDP leader in the Lok Sabha, Nama Nageshwara Rao, apologised to Mukherjee.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Monday convened a meeting of the chief ministers of Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra over the barrage and asked tje two riverine states to abide by the Supreme Court interim order.

Earlier, the house congratulated former Indian skipper Sachin Tendulkar for his ‘unique achievement’ of playing 169 test cricket matches.

–Indo-Asian New Service


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