Agriculture Minister and NCP president Sharad Pawar on Sunday distanced himself from a statement in party mouthpiece Rashtravadi, “One will not die if one does not consume (costly) sugar.”
The statement appeared in the editorial of this month’s issue, following which the NCP came under fire. Pawar has been blamed for rising food prices.
During the NCP’s state convention at Aurangabad in central Maharashtra, Pawar said, “Making such a statement is not right. But every editor has a right to express his opinion though it may not necessarily be our party’s policy.”
Rashtravadi editor Sudheer Bhongale wrote that people could survive without eating sugar because “anyways several people died of diabetes across the country.” Bhongale also said there was no need to include sugar in the list of essential commodities.
Bhongale’s remarks evoked strong reactions from senior NCP leaders. Dismissing the row, Pawar said, “Some people create such controversies for gaining more TRPs.”
Pawar said several factors such as states’ marketing policies, climate change and the global economy were equally responsible for price rise.
He came down heavily on politicians who had pointed a finger at him for failing to keep prices in check. “We don’t need to worry about these leaders, especially those placed in heavy places,” he said without naming his old rival and Union heavy industries minister, Vilasrao Deshmukh, who was most critical of Pawar at the Congress conclave last week.
“I think states can control such practices because they control retail and marketing policies,” Pawar said. Increased purchasing power also played a role in inflating prices, he added.