Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar on Saturday ticked off his party’s ally, the Congress, saying he was made to face the heat from the Opposition in Parliament over the price rise issue although it did not fall under his purview.
“I looked up records from 1952 on discussions over price rise in the Parliament. And, every time the reply on these discussions was given by the Finance Minister. This is the first time that the Agriculture minister was asked to reply on the issue,’’ Pawar said.
This is the first time that Pawar, was speaking at a workshop of Nationalist Congress Party cadre in Mumbai, has publicly criticised the Congress for making him the target in the price rise controversy. Pawar had offered to resign from the Agriculture, Food and Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs ministries.
“For the last year and a half, the discussion over price rise is being talked of as if farmers have hiked prices of all commodities,’’ Pawar said.
He said the Congressmen targeting him should remember that the Empowered Group of Ministers dealing with inflation was led by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, a Congressman.
Pawar also clarified that there was no court directive regarding distribution of free food grain to the poor. “Food grains have been rotting almost every year because of insufficient storage. This year, food grain production was around 700 lakh tonnes but the storage capacity is only 400 lakh tonnes,’’ he said.