Union Agriculture, Food and Civil Supplies Minister Sharad Pawar cannot be singularly blamed for the rising food prices, national president of BJP Nitin Gadkari said on Sunday.
Addressing a press conference here, Gadkari said even though Pawar cannot be absolved of responsibility for the price rise, the cabinet is supreme and as its head Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh and the UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and finance and commerce ministers are responsible for putting the "aam admi" (common man) to lot of hardships.
Gadkari attributed the price rise to the "bad governance and wrong economic policies" of Dr Singh and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi.
He said BJP leaders had visited food grains godowns in several parts of the country and found that the storages were in dilapidated conditions.
"Due to the bad conditions, grains tend to get damaged. The damaged food grains are then sent to the distilleries for manufacturing liquor," he said adding that there is huge corruption where godowns are not deliberately maintained," he said adding that the government should conduct an inquiry into the matter.
Referring to government's stand that godowns are overflowing, Gadkari said,"If that is true, why are the poor not getting them. The food grains are being allowed to rot due to poor maintenance of the godowns."
Presenting a 14-point chargesheet against the UPA government on price rise, Gadkari said his party would launch a nationwide agitation against the government on April 21.
"The protest march to Parliament will be record breaking," the BJP president said.
Launching a scathing attack on the Congress, Gadkari said the party claims welfare of the poor, but during its tenure, the number of below poverty line people (BPL) has gone up by 41 crore out of which 75 per cent were SC/ST and minorities.
"I have the documents of the Planning Commission to prove it," he said.
"The agitation against price rise is not a political subject but a fight for survival of the poor. We would welcome the support of left and other parties," he said when asked whether the agitation against price rise is by the BJP only or the NDA partners.
Gadkari said the NDA government to help farmers and consumers created the commodities exchanges. But, now it has become a den of speculators. The UPA shifted essential commodities to future/forward market trading list since July 2004.
BJP has charged Manmohan Singh government with criminal violation of essential commodities act. Gadkari said provisions of the Essential Commodities Act prohibit hoarding and speculation.
However, the government itself is encouraging forward trading of essential/agriculture commodities at commodity exchanges.
Gadkari also criticised the frequent, non-transparent and manipulative import and export policies of the government. He alleged that 48 lakh tonne of sugar was exported at Rs 12.50 per kg and re-imported at Rs 22 to Rs 32 per kg.
Inferior quality of wheat was imported at Rs 18.50 per kg while Indian farmers were paid Rs 8.50 per kg, he alleged.