Jaitley, BJP lawmakers counter Rahul Gandhi on price rise

New Delhi, July 28 (IANS) Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, joined by other ruling BJP members, on Thursday strongly rejected Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi’s criticism of Prime Minister Narendra Modi over escalating prices, saying the NDA dispensation had performed well at a “difficult stage”.

Jaitley hoped that with good monsoon this year, the price front too will ease.

Countering Rahul Gandhi, Jaitley said that even today the corruption scandals of the UPA regime can be heard about.

“We have contained inflation despite having two years of drought. Good monsoon helps economy and with good monsoon this year, I expect that the prices will come down,” Jaitley said in the Lok Sabha making an intervention during the debate on price rise.

“We have been able to keep things under control despite two years of bad monsoon, which resulted in higher food inflation.”

Jaitley asked the Congress Vice President to compare the inflation rate during the UPA government and what’s prevailing now under the Modi government.

Stating that the two years of UPA government saw double digit price rise, Jaitley said consumer price inflation was 10.2 per cent in 2012-13. It was near 9.5 per cent when the BJP took over, he said, adding that this has been brought down to 5.77 per cent.

Taking a jibe at Rahul Gandhi for listing out items whose prices had gone up, the Finance Minister quipped: “Everybody in this House seems to be claiming to be going to the market everyday.”

“Any form of bluster is not substitute of statistics,” he added, even as other BJP members slammed Rahul Gandhi for his “lip service” to the welfare of the poor.

Hukmdev Narayan Yadav, BJP member from Bihar, said the opposition party is “frustrated” with the Modi government as it is taking several steps to bring back black money.

“Contrary to allegations made by Rahul Gandhi, the Modi government has catered most for the welfare of the poor people. Opening of bank accounts under the Jan Dhan scheme for the rural people and cheap LPG made available to poor people only shows the government’s commitment to the poor,” Yadav said.

Another BJP lawmaker Poonam Mahajan from Maharashtra sought to blame the Congress government of the past for the price rise.

Making a veiled attack on Rahul Gandhi, she wondered how the ‘yuvraj’ (prince) did not know about the price situation when UPA was in power from 2004-2014.

Referring to Maharashtra situations, she claimed that a large number of farmers committed suicide during Congress rule.

Among others K. Karunakaran of CPI-M and B. Mahtab (Biju Janata Dal) said both the Congress and BJP-led NDA have failed to control price rise.

Mahtab suggested the government should deal with the supply side issues to contain inflation.

Saugata Roy (Trinamool) and Tariq Anwar (NCP) also criticised the government and said the government spokespersons and ministers are sounding “apologists” over the price hike.

Roy said Jaitley should give a road map on how to bring down the prices.

Jaitley shot back at Rahul Gandhi’s argument on minimum support price and said: “The new economic equation you gave that a rise in minimum support price should result in lower retail prices, otherwise it is corruption. This I have heard for the first time”.

He said MSP is determined on account of demand and supply.

Defending the move to hike excise duty on petrol and diesel, Jaitley said the government had no other option.

–IANS

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