The Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) on Thursday blamed the "wrong policies" and "mismanagement" of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's government for the steep rise in the prices of essential commodities.
Taking a strong exception to the Congress-led government's claim about GDP growth, the CPI-M, which along with three other partners lends crucial outside support to the ruling coalition, alleged that it was facing "the anger and discontent of the people due to price rise".
"The UPA (United Progressive Alliance) government is squarely responsible for the present state of affairs. In the middle of last year, the government claimed that the price rise was seasonal," the CPI-M said in the editorial of the party weekly People's Democracy.
"The wrong policies of the government and mismanagement have led to shortages of supply and price rise of many commodities," the article said.
The communists alleged that the government failed to bring down the prices of sugar despite a fall in its international price. "The fiasco of wheat imports last year underlined the failure to procure adequate amounts of wheat from farmers because private players are being allowed to corner stocks," the party said.
"Mesmerised by its own talk of having achieved nine per cent growth in GDP, the UPA government is now facing the anger and discontent of the people due to price rise," it said adding that the price rise would have an adverse effect on the fortunes of the ruling party in the ongoing state assembly elections in Punjab and Uttarakhand.
"The diehard neo-liberal policy makers in the UPA government will have to come to grips with reality soon," the editorial said.
The article also said the previous National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government's decision in 2003 to lift all restrictions on futures trading in agricultural commodities was a major reason for the price rise.
"The government should immediately put curbs on the futures trading of essential commodities. It must reduce the prices of petrol and diesel further; it should revise the ad-valorem duty structure on petroleum products."
"It must take necessary measures to boost food grain production and ensure adequate procurement. It has to take urgent steps to strengthen and expand the public distribution system. It has to tighten up the Essential Commodities Act and crack down on hoarding with a firm hand. This is the least that people expect to be done to protect their livelihood and rights," the editorial urged.