Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar says he had forewarned the Parliament three years ago that sugar prices would rise if the minimum support price of sugarcane was not increased.
Pawar used the concluding session of his Nationalist Congress Party’s national conclave at Karla, 114 km from Mumbai, on Sunday to take on critics both from the opposition and his ally, the Congress, on the issue of price rise. “Price rise does not take place in a day, there are many aspects to it.”
“I had called for increasing of minimum support price of sugarcane three years back in the Parliament. At the time there was no consensus and this was not followed by the government.” The steps he had suggested then were being implemented now and, Pawar predicted, in the next couple of years, sugarcane production would surplus. So much so, the country would not have enough godowns to store the cane, he said.
Pawar has been facing flak, most recently in Parliament, over rising prices of food stuff. Explaining the food price rise issue to his partymen, Pawar said he was not solely to blame for the crisis.
Within the NCP, resentment has been growing over the way Pawar has been singled out, within the United Progressive Alliance, for blame on the issue. The party is especially unhappy with some senior Congress leaders from Maharashtra who have been at the forefront of the blame-Pawar campaign.
“Only those who are ignorant can blame Pawar for the crisis. We don’t have to defend. Dogs will keep on barking,” said party spokesperson DP Tripathy.