Veg prices will be a political hot potato

Published: 06 November, 2013 06:19 IST | Ravikiran Deshmukh |

A repeat of the 1998 Delhi state assembly elections seems to be imminent, thanks to the soaring prices of vegetables in general, and onion and potato rates in particular

Five states Delhi, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Mizoram will soon witness state assembly elections, and the issue of soaring rates of vegetables is sure to play a huge role in determining the outcome in these states. The BJP’s Delhi unit is determined to take full advantage of the situation, with leaders Vijay Goyal and chief ministerial candidate Harsh Vardhan having launched what can be called a revenge campaign against the Congress, harping on the part’s inability to rein in prices.

Given the anger already simmering among the common man over soaring onion prices, the rising potato prices are sure to add fuel to fire and escalate public angst. With India now in its 68th year of independence, the struggles of the state with things as basic as onions and potatoes fail to inspire a sense of a democracy matured. The people are still too worried about prices of basic commodities to deliberate over political issues.

The political classes must offer an explanation. BJP leader Harsh Vardhan has blamed hoarders for the mess, but the political classes have always sheltered the traders’ community. Be it the BJP leader or the Congress or even the NCP in Maharashtra, the issue of rising prices has always kickstarted a debate over hoarding of essential items.

No political party has ever stood against the hoarders and made a sustained effort to free producers of agricultural products from their clutches. NCP Chief Sharad Pawar, who is at Baramati for Diwali celebrations, said his skin has thickened, thanks to all the slander he has faced over the rising prices of food grains and vegetables.

He said that the same people who bellyache over rising prices never stop to think about the losses have to face when the price of products dip. He claims that the price rise has been the fallout of increase in the input cost. Production cost has increased substantially, leading to an impact in the sale prices. Pawar and his political colleagues however choose not to comment on questions as to why the traders are richer than farmers, and why farmers commit suicide even though people like him are there to ‘support’ the community. 

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