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Govt may call CMs to discuss price rise

BS Reporter  |  New Delhi 

The government is planning to seek a deeper involvement of states in combating inflation even as it prepares to face political wrath over the issue.
Sources said a meeting of chief ministers and food ministers across the country would be called by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh later this month, after seeing the results of measures already taken in this regard.
On the other hand, the government today tried to do some advance management of the rash of rage over price rise.
Congress General Secretary Abhishek Manu Singhvi told reporters: "The government has waged an unprecedented war against price rise. But it will take time for the results to come. Wait for just a few weeks, the inflation rates will definitely come down. We don't have a magic wand. Our party is most concerned about this matter."
That Singhvi shied away from a specific deadline on when the efforts of the government will yield results got the government little traction.
When asked why the Left parties' proposals of slashing the Customs duty on oil prices and strengthening the public distribution system (PDS) were not being implemented, he said, "The government gets suggestions from many places. But it is not possible to implement all the suggestions."
This indicates that the political stage is set with the government batting defensively on the price rise issue and the Opposition ready to attack aggressively.
It is going to be a demonstration a day in April all over India. It started with Assam with the Opposition attacking the Congress-led government in the state Assembly on April 2, leaving Food and Civil Supplies Minister Nazrul Islam to say that price rise in the state was the result of "a cascading effect of rise in the prices of essential commodities across the country "" as most of the items are procured from outside the state."
The entire Opposition, including the unlikely allies of BJP, CPI and AGP, joined the protest and walked out.
On April 3, a similar protest was witnessed in Delhi against the Sheila Dikshit-led Congress government. Bharatiya Janata Party state unit chief Harshvardhan said the Delhi government had failed in checking the "skyrocketing prices of essential commodities, and must resign by owning moral responsibility".
"The city did not witness such a rise in the price of vegetables, edible oils, fruits and pulses in the past 60 years. The government remains non-serious, which makes it difficult for the common man," he said.
"Pulses are being sold at Rs 40 to Rs 60 per kg. While mustard oil is being sold for Rs 80-85 per kg, fruits like apples are for Rs 80 a kg," he said, adding the party was planning public meetings in the capital this month.
"The UPA came to power on the slogan of 'aam aadmi', but the unchecked inflation has now become an unlegislated tax on the same common man," senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley said today.
On April 8, the JD(U) is scheduled to demonstrate in the national capital against the spiralling prices of essential commodities. Party president Sharad Yadav says the UPA government has created the crisis by handing over the foodgrain trade to private players.
In Uttar Pradesh, the Congress Mahila Morcha will hold a day-long demonstration at all district headquarters on April 17 to protest the Mayawati government's "failure" to arrest price rise of essential commodities.
Also, on April 17 and 18, the CPI has planned a big agitation against price rise. Only, this won't be a silent protest.
"We will have a militant movement against price rise on April 17 and 18," party general secretary AB Bardhan said last week. He added that the United National People's Alliance (UNPA), the so-called Third Front led by Mulayam Singh Yadav and the Telugu Desam Party, was also planning an agitation in this regard.

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First Published: Sat, April 05 2008. 00:00 IST