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Sparks fly over price rise in Rajya Sabha

Tuesday, 8 July 2014 - 6:35am IST | Place: New Delhi | Agency: dna

Hoarders are from the business class, your vote base, Mayawati tells BJP
  • BJP MP Kirron Kher, Union HRD minister Smriti Irani, TMC MP Moon Moon Sen and DMK MP Kanimozhi arrive at Parliament on the first day of the budget session in New Delhi on Monday PTI

Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan tried to persist with the Question Hour despite the Opposition parties — Congress, TMC, SP, NCP — storming into the Well of the House shouting slogans over price rise even as an impassive Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, Union ministers Rajnath Singh and Sushma Swaraj and party elder LK Advani, watched as silent spectators.

Congress deputy leader Amarinder Singh had moved an adjournment motion, which, if accepted, would have entailed the suspension of Question Hour and a response from the government. Instead, Mahajan rejected the adjournment motion and wanted to take up notices for short duration discussion under Rule 193. The Opposition was not satisfied with it, and Mahajan was forced to adjourn the House for the day.

In the Rajya Sabha, there was a debate on price rise, and the BJP-led NDA government felt the heat of being on the treasury benches. Though the Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad counted the act of omission and commission of the little more than six-week-old Modi government, it was leaders of other Opposition parties that nailed the BJP.

BSP leader Mayawati mounted a fierce attack on the BJP, saying the government would not be able to act against hoarders because they form the BJP's base. "My party's vote base is that of Dalits, wheres yours is that of the shopkeepers," she said in her blunt speech. She said that the business class had bankrolled the BJP's election campaign, and it would want its pound of flesh. "Achche din nahin aaye, mehenge din aaye (Not good days, but costly days have come)," she said.

TMC leader Derek O'Brien lambasted the rail fare hike as ill-conceived because it affected the common people who travel and not the moneyed-folk who take the Shatabdi and Rajdhani trains. He also pointed out that it was not wise for the railways to compete with road transport but that there should be an alignment between the two.

Janata Dal (United) leader Sharad Yadav said that bringing onions and potatoes under the Essential Commodities Act, the government was not taking on the hoarders, instead, it was penalising the poor farmer who grows onions and potatoes.

BJP leader Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi hit back saying that his government was sensitive to people's issues and that is the reason that it had given in immediately to the demand for discussion on price rise. Naqvi admitted that price rise was a reality and unlike the Congress and the UPA, the BJP and NDA were not denying the reality. He said that his government would take necessary measures to stem the tide of rising prices. He pointed out that the BJP-led NDA had inherited the rising prices from the Congress-led UPA.

Picking on Naqvi's reference to inheritance, CPI-M's Sitaram Yechury said that it seemed that the BJP has picked up the baton of rising prices from the Congress and it is keen to take it further. He attacked the increase in petrol prices saying that oil marketing companies are making profits, and that talk of "under-recoveries" was simply a fraud. He argued that benchmarking the domestic petrol and diesel prices to the international crude price was wrong. He said that the imported crude was refined in Indian refineries and it is the domestic cost of production that should determine the oil prices in the country.

Finance minister Arun Jaitley said the rail price hike was the Congress side of the ledger, and that the NDA's account will start with the railway budget on Tuesday.

The Congress, the BSP, the CPI-M staged a walkout, separately expressing dissatisfaction with Jaitley's reply.

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