As the Centre patted itself on the back for what it called timely action to contain prices for essential food items such as pulses, onions and potatoes, Opposition-ruled states who attended a meeting in the capital were clearly not impressed. They accused the BJP-led NDA government of not doing enough to help the common man.
“It is the responsibility of the Centre to take steps to bring the situation under control. They need to go out and make laws. The states cannot make laws. There is a big difference between preaching and action,” argued Bihar Food Minister Shyam Razak, who belongs to former chief minister Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal (United).
West Bengal food and civil supplies minister Jyotipriya Mallick claimed that the Centre was not doing enough to tackle the price rise problem. “It needs to procure commodities such as onions and pass them on to the states,” he said. West Bengal is ruled by Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress.
Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, while briefing reporters this afternoon about the deliberations at the conference of state food ministers, blamed hoarders for the spurt in food prices, and asked the states to order a crackdown on them.
“The price-rise on onions is not because of hoarding. It is because the Centre has failed, and is shifting its responsibility on the states,” said Anil Deshmukh, Maharashtra food and civil supplies minister. He belongs to Sharad Pawar’s Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), which partners Congress in the state and at the Centre.