Rejecting Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi’s charges on price rise, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Thursday said in Lok Sabha that inflation is under control and it is expected to reduce further. “It (inflation) is under control and I expect it to reduce further with good monsoon,” said Jaitley.
Referring to Gandhi’s attack on Modi for criticising the then Congress-led government over inflation in February 2014, Jaitley said, “This is a topic of statistics and not sloganeering. The UPA had left government in a serious state and it is but natural that any contesting candidate before election would say that if I come to power, I will try to bring inflation down. No one should have any objection to that.”
Insisting that the Modi government had reduced inflation and kept it under control, the Finance Minister said he expects it to reduce further with a “good” monsoon.
He acknowledged that high prices of pulses is a concern and said steps are being taken to address this by narrowing the mismatch between demand and supply.
Noting that India has the highest production along with highest consumption of pulses, he said while the demand is for 23 million tonnes, the production was 17 million tonnes, leaving a gap of six million tonnes.
The output of pulses is expected to go up to 20 million tonnes this crop year, Jaitley said, adding steps are also being taken by the Food Ministry to create a buffer of 20 lakh tonnes of pulses to keep the prices under control.
He also criticised Gandhi for asking the Prime Minister to set a date by when the prices will come down, saying issues are settled through policies rather than giving dates.
The government is working on policies to encourage farmers to produce more and India is moving towards self sufficiency in pulses produce, he said.
“You are talking about a government which left behind double digit inflation and today we have a situation where steps have been taken in each sector to contain inflation. Any form of bluster is not a substitute for statistics. These are backed by hard facts,” Jaitley said.
Jaitley said the monthly statistics shows the pulses inflation is coming down and asked Rahul Gandhi not to look for corruption angle in the rise of prices of pulses, which he said occurred due to rise in costs globally besides two consecutive years of drought.
“Even today the corruption scandals that emerge are those of UPAs and not NDA… We have contained inflation despite having two years of drought. Good monsoon helps economy and with good monsoon this year, I expect that the prices of will come down,” Jaitley said.
He said the UPA had left the economy in a dire state, with Consumer Price Index (CPI) and food inflation at double digit, WPI inflation around 6-7 per cent and growth prospects were limited.
He cautioned UPA against indulging in “back of envelop calculations” regarding economic data stating it will only be “misleading”.
Taking a jibe at Gandhi for quoting market prices of essential commodities, Jaitley said in a lighter vein, “everybody in this House seems to be claiming to go to market everyday”.
He said in 2012-13 and 2013-14, which were the last two years of UPA regime, were marked by increasing prices and inflation data looked grim.
Earlier, launching an offensive against the government over price rise, Gandhi had demanded that the prime minister must give a date by when the prices of pulses will come down.
“You may make as many hollow promises as you want, but give us a date by when the prices of daal will come down,” Gandhi said in Lok Sabha during a debate on price rise.
In his first major intervention in the monsoon session, Gandhi said the price of pulses and vegetables have gone over the roof after the NDA came to power and the farmers have not been able to get any benefit of the steep rise in the price of these commodities.
(With inputs from PTI)