New Delhi: Concerned over rising prices of essential food items, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has called a meeting of the state chief ministers on Saturday to chalk out strategy to combat inflation.
The meeting follows Congress Working Committee (CWC) deliberations on price rise on Friday during which party members are believed to have expressed concern over surging inflation and suggested the government should take steps to contain it.
Singh told the meeting that necessary steps have been taken in consultation with chief ministers and the results would be visible in the next few weeks.
Earlier in the week, Singh had discussed the issue with the state chief secretaries and impressed upon them the need to improve public distribution system and increase farm productivity.
The Prime Minister, in his meeting with chief ministers, will discuss food price situation and review implementation of the Essential Commodities Act to check hoarding of food items.
He is also likely to ask states to fully utilize their allocations of cereals under the PDS as well as the open market sale scheme.
Driven by rising prices of pulses and vegetables, food inflation soared to a decade’s high of about 20% in December before declining to 17.56% in January.
The wholesale price-based general inflation, from sub-zero level last year, crossed 7% in December and is estimated to climb to 8.5% by March.
CWC ‘flays’ Pawar over food price hike
Agriculture minister Sharad Pawar was at the receiving end at the Congress Working Committee meeting with members making veiled attack on him over rising prices.
The meeting, presided over by party chief Sonia Gandhi with Prime Minister in attendance, saw concerns expressed over price rise and demands made for taking stern measures to curb the trend.
In an apparent message to Pawar, members also suggested that the minister desist from attempts to create a fear psychosis against the backdrop of some of his remarks in this regard.
Sources said there was talk that the department of consumer affairs be taken away from Pawar but this was strongly denied by Congress general secretary Janardan Dwivedi.
As many as 18 members including Digvijay Singh, Mohsina Kidwai as also some party chief ministers gave suggestions to control price rise and senior leader Karan Singh even demanded a draconian law to check hoarding and black marketing, party sources said.
Sharing the concern of members, Manmohan Singh said improvement was being made in tackling the price situation and things will get better soon. He said necessary steps have been taken in consultation with chief ministers and the results would be visible in the next few weeks.
Govt to up food production to tackle prices
The Centre will try to control rising food prices by increasing production, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was quoted as saying by a spokesman of the ruling Congress party.
“(The PM said) we are trying to control inflation through increasing production,” Janardan Dwivedi told a news conference after the party’s highest decision-making body discussed high food prices.
India’s food price index rose an annual 17.56% in late January.