Rising prices is turning out to be a riddle for the Congress which is squarely blaming the state governments for failing to act against hoarders and black-marketeers and called for an immediate crackdown on them.
A day after the Government came out with a series of measures to check inflation, AICC General Secretary Digvijay Singh wondered over the rise in prices after the Union Budget 2008-09 when it had not levied any taxes or duties on essential commodities.
"There is no shortage of wheat, pulses, edible oil, sugar. Why are the prices then going up suddenly? It has to be because of hoarding and because the state governments have not enforced stock restrictions," Singh said.
He said that the state governments should immediately take up anti-hoarding drive to bring the prices under control. Replying to questions, Singh also admitted that the implementation of the recommendations of the Sixth Pay Commission would further add to the inflation.
Singh, who was subjected to a volley of questions on the "failure" of the Congress-led coalition to rein in prices for the last two years, insisted that the task of the Centre was macro-policy planning and it has done so.
He said that the subsidy bill of the Government has shot up tremendously, but it has not allowed the prices of petroleum, foodgrains and fertilisers to go up drastically.
Singh's refrain was that inflation has become a global phenomenon, which has affected several countries, including China, the US, UK and Russia.
He disfavoured the import duty cut on edible oil at a time when the fresh mustard produce will be coming into the market.
Singh hailed the measures taken by Finance Minister P Chidambaram, saying it was as a result of the taxes collected by him that the Centre could provide three-and-a-half times more money to the states and invest so much in the social sector.