Aremark by US President George W. Bush, saying India was partly responsible for rising global food prices, has sparked a nationalistic storm across the political spectrum, with the defence minister calling it a “cruel joke”.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), country’s main opposition party, threatened on Monday to force a parliamentary debate on Bush’s remarks that India’s increasingly prosperous middle classes were helping push up prices.
“US policies are also responsible for the foodgrain shortage,” defence minister A.K. Antony told local media on Sunday, saying official encouragement of biofuels in the US was causing food shortages.
The minister added that Bush’s remark was a “cruel joke”.
“Bush has never been known for his knowledge of economics,” minister of state for trade Jairam Ramesh said.
The Opposition quickly jumped on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s silence over Bush’s remarks. “He has got only a few days left in office and at least he should now stand up to protect the country’s honour and dignity,” BJP vice-president Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said. “India will not accept such interference. The government should take serious note of the US President’s statement and give a strong reply.”