Cracks in UPA: NCP calls Rahul arrogant for price rise

New Delhi, January 12 (Agencies): The Nationalist Congress Party, a major constituent of the UPA, today hit out at Congress leader Rahul Gandhi for blaming coalition compulsions for price rise, saying his statements should reflect “humility” and not “arrogance”. A day after Gandhi made the comments which seemed to target Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar, NCP General Secretary and spokesman D P Tripathi said the Congress leader’s statement was not based on facts.
“The Congress party is the principal party in the UPA and any statement of the leader of that party should reflect humility and not arrogance,” Tripathi told a press conference here. Describing Gandhi’s statement as “unfortunate”, the NCP leader said no single minister, including Pawar, could be held responsible for the price rise as “it is the collective responsibility” of the government. “I have always admired Rahul Gandhi and wished him success in politics. But I felt sad that such an important political leader of the UPA and the Congress party has made a statement which is not based on facts,” Tripathi said.
He said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has complimented Pawar for handling the Food and Agriculture portfolio. Sending out a message to the Congress, the NCP spokesperson made it clear that it would have to live with coalition politics as a single-party rule is not possible in the “distant” and “foreseeable” future. “These are the days of pluralism... coalition rule has arrived,” Tripathi said. Noting that the essence of the people’s verdict in 2004 and the 2009 general elections was to follow the “coalition course and not the collision course”, he said any attack on coalition politics would amount to attacking the verdict of India.
At an interaction in Lucknow on Tuesday, Rahul Gandhi was asked about the government’s failure to control price rise. He was also reminded that his grandmother, the late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, had done a better job in keeping prices low. Gandhi had replied that Indira ruled a single-party government while the present government has “compulsions”. Tripathi, however, countered the biggest mass movement against price rise had taken place in 1974-75 when Indira Gandhi was the Prime Minister. NCP Vice President and Union Minister Praful Patel, however, sought to undertake a damage-control exercise, saying Gandhi had not criticised anybody in particular. “I don’t think Rahul Gandhi’s statement should be read in the context of current coalition as he was replying to a general question asked to him by students. He has not criticised any party in particular,” Patel said.
Rahul Gandhi does not understand coalition politics: BJP
New Delhi, January 12 (agencies): BJP today took a dig at Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on his remark that coalition politics was responsible for rising prices, saying even the NDA government under Atal Bihari Vajpayee was a coalition regime but prices were stable then. BJP spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman described Rahul’s statement on this “very sensitive, critical issue of prices” as one which has come due to lack of understanding.
She said it was even more regrettable that this has come from “somebody who is being projected as a messiah of new leadership, youth leadership of the Congress party”. “Congress came to power in the name of aam admi, who for the last two years has not heard anything other than the possibility that prices will go down in the next six months. There have also been some astrological predictions about prices,” she said. The BJP leader said Congress has told people that the compulsion of coalition politics has stopped the government from taking enough action to bring down prices.
She claimed that in the erstwhile NDA rule, prices had remained stable even during periods of drought. During periods of drought, grains were sent to the affected areas by the Centre which had also borne the costs involved. BJP insisted that in a coalition government political parties in it may have to make compromises on their core issues or ideology but not on prices of commodities. “This just shows lack of understanding. What have prices got to do with this. There is a complete lack of leadership today,” Sitharaman said.
The principal Opposition also pointed out that the government had given two ministries having conflict of interest to one person (Sharad Pawar). Sitharaman maintained that while the priority of the Agriculture Ministry was farmers’ interest, the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, which she alleged is “probably in hibernation”, wants the consumer to get the best price.