All major political parties, including Congress, BJP and the Left, on Saturday lashed out at US President George W Bush for blaming growing demand in India for the spiralling global food prices as the opposition used the opportunity to attack the government.
Most parties said a major reason for spiralling global food prices was diversion of land producing foodcrops in the US to bio-fuel production, while Minister of State for Commerce Jairam Ramesh said Bush was "completely wrong" in his assessment.
"George Bush has never been known for his knowledge of economics. And he has just proved once again how comprehensively wrong he is. To say that the demand for food in India is causing increase in global good prices is completely wrong," Ramesh said.
Congress criticised the US President saying the analysis was "completely erroneous" as India was not a food importer but a food exporter.
"India is a not a net food importer. It is a food exporter. The assumption that local prices are increasing because of a changed India is completely erroneous," AICC spokesperson Manish Tewari said, adding "the crisis is actually because of diversion of arable land in the developed world for ethanol production and because of changes in the climate pattern".
While the Left parties blamed the "neoliberal economic policies imposed on India by the Bush administration", the BJP used the US President's statement to attack the Congress-led coalition at the Centre over its "failure" to control inflation.
"The statement by George Bush fixes into the frame of irrelevancy of the statements of the UPA ministers. It is the same like Praful Patel saying that price rise is due to change in food habits," BJP spokesman Prakash Javadekar said.
He said there was bound to be greater demand for essential commodities as the economy grows and noted that it was the responsibility of planners and the Government to ensure food supply and control prices at the same time.
"At a time when millions of people in India are unable to get enough food to eat and suffer from malnutrition, Bush's insensible remarks about India's prosperity affecting global food prices are adding insult to injury," CPI(M) general secretary Prakash Karat told PTI.
He said the US policy of subsidising and promoting biofuel out of crops was the major reason for the shortages and spurt in food prices. "This is what President Bush has sought to cover up."
CPI National Secretary D Raja blamed US policies for all major crises facing the world, particularly in energy and food sectors.
"The Bush Administration is trying to cover up its own fault by shifting the blame to developing countries. It is the US which has shifted agricultural production from foodgrains to bio-fuel, thereby creating food crisis and pushing up the prices," he said.
Raja described Bush's comment as "a kind of racial statement" which blames India and China for heightened demand.
The CPI leader said India grew its own food and did not "exploit other nations like US imperialism."
Bush joined US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in blaming the rising prosperity of India's huge middle class for the spiralling global food prices.
Prosperity in countries like India is "good" but it triggers increased demand for "better nutrition" which in turn leads to higher food prices, Bush said.