BeyondHeadlines News Desk
New Delhi: In the opposition line of fire over the price rise issue, Congress party troubleshooter Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee fielded the government’s response in Parliament on Thursday.
Pranab rejected the BJP’s advice that growth should be traded with inflation if necessary. The finance minister also urged the opposition to not score political points on inflation.
“Inflation is basically the product of serious mismatch in between demand and supply. If I understand correctly, it does not mean we should not have growth. We should have growth but with moderate rate of inflation. We are trying to reach that objective,” he said.
The senior Congress leader came under a flurry of attacks when former finance minister Yashwant Sinha warned the government that the opposition would be forced to tell it to “go, for God’s sake”, if it failed to check the price rise spiral at the earliest.
Sinha asked the government to check price rise and ensure that the issue is not raised in the Winter Session of the Parliament on Wednesday.
Pranab said that there was a divergence of view among political parties over the issue of tackling rising prices. He hoped that Parliament would arrive at a consensus after the debate.
The finance minister was replying to the debate over rising prices in the Lok Sabha.
Pranab said that there was no inherent contradiction between growth and inflation and the government was trying to achieve growth with a moderate rate of inflation. “India was never known to have a high growth rate,” Pranab said.
The government has provided relief to poorer sections of society, added the finance minister. He denied the opposition charge that the government was insensitive. “We have brought inflation down from 22% to around 8%,” Pranab said.
Commenting on raising fuel prices in last few months that have pushed up inflation further, the finance minister said he cannot keep local prices low if global fuel prices were high.
The Left parties walked out of the Lok Sabha immediately after the finance minister ended his speech.
Speaking after the reply of Pranab Mukherjee, BJP leader Yashwant Sinha said that his was disappointed with the reply of the finance minister.
The UPA government on Wednesday came under attack in the Lok Sabha over rising prices with the opposition questioning the efficacy of steps to address the problem but ruling Congress countered the charge by attributing inflation to global conditions.
Former finance minister and BJP leader Yashwant Sinha contended the situation had become unbearable for common people and reached a stage where the government has to be told to ‘Go, for God’s sake, Go’.
Initiating the debate on rising prices in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday, he slammed the government’s argument that high growth will entail inflation, saying such a growth was not acceptable to people.
“We will not accept inflation of more than three per cent,” he said after moving a resolution on price rise.
The opposition had been pressing for a discussion on price rise in the backdrop of the inflation which stood at 9.4 per cent in June and is likely to remain high till November.
Hitting out at Congress which came to power on the ‘aam aadmi’ plank, Sinha alleged government policies have helped profiteers, blackmarketeers, hoarders and the corrupt to “loot” the common man of an additional Rs six lakh crore in the past three years.
Defending the government, law minister Salman Khurshid attributed high inflation to increasing prices of crude oil in the international market.
The government had taken a number of fiscal measures like reducing import duties, suspended futures trading in rice and certain pulses to rein in prices, he said.
The Parliament will vote on a resolution on price rise once the debate concludes.