Opposition hits out at Centre over price rise, inflation, GST hike | India News – Times of India

NEW DELHI: The Opposition parties on Tuesday tried to corner the Modi government over price rise, inflation and recent hike in GST on essential edible items as well as on ATM withdrawals, cheque books, hospital bills and even crematoriums, saying that it was hitting the poor and low-income households already dealing with unemployment, even as they alleged that decisions were being taken to favour a few rich and waive off corporate loans.
Stating that households were adversely affected by the rise in prices, Trinamool MP Derek O Brien quoted three numbers – 20% cess and surcharge, 7% retail inflation and 29 crore unemployed youth. “These figures add up to 56”, he said in an apparent reference to the “56-inch chest” comment relating to the PM. He questioned the depreciation in rupee value when the inflation in US at 9% was higher than India’s 7%.
Disputing finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s claim that all states, including West Bengal, Rajasthan and Punjab, were party to decisions of the GST council, Derek accused her of misleading the House. He cited the Supreme Court’s observation that GST council was only a recommendatory body. He raised a statement made by Narendra Modi in 2013 that “common people are affected by rising prices but the insensitive Central government is making a mockery of the suffering of the poor,” adding that “we agree with the statement”.
During Sitharaman’s speech, when Derek tried to raise a point of order and was not allowed to do so by the Chair, the Trinamool MPs walked out of the House in protest against not being allowed to speak. Leader of the House Piyush Goyal got up to call the walkout unfortunate and alleged that it only showed that Trinamool Congress was running from the debate on price rise.
Questioning the rise in prices of essential food items, Elamaram Kareem of CPM said the government, instead of sitting on huge stockpiles of foodgrains, could have expanded the public distribution system to include more families and to include essential items like cooking oils, pulses, salt, milk, etc., so that needy families get these items cheap and even open market prices are reduced. “To raise revenue, the government must tax the super-rich…it is giving further tax concessions and loan waivers to the corporates,” he alleged.
Prakash Javadekar of BJP questioned the non BJP-ruled states for not reducing VAT on petrol and diesel when all BJP-ruled state governments had done so twice. He said that India is the fastest growing economy at a time when even the US is facing recession. “We are not there as we have taken decisions that saved the economy,” he claimed.
Tiruchi Siva of DMK brought up the oft-repeated “Rs 15-lakh will be deposited in each person’s account” line to question the government. Switching to Tamil to underline how a good “ruler” should take care of the poor, lend an ear to the Opposition and focus on good administration, he alleged that contrary to its slogan of “maximum governance, minimum government” the government seems to be focused on “maximum government, minimum governance”.
Ram Nath Thakur of JD(U) said that while many had criticised price rise and inflation, nobody had given suggestions to tackle these. He sought a survey to gauge impact on rising prices, and suggested that GST be applied on “items of luxury” rather than essential items like vegetables, pulses, flour and cooking oil.
Vijay Sai Reddy of YSRCP advised the government to control inflation by raising the cash reserve ratio, which is 4.5% at present, by 50 more basis points, and increasing the statutory liquidity ratio, maintained at 18% as of now by RBI to the extent of 40%.
BJD’s Sujeet Kumar, while accepting that India’s growth was better than most economies, including China, said that he would be failing in his duty as Parliamentarian if he did not highlight “the concerns of crores of Indian citizens who are today crying because of the burden of inflation”.
Congress member from Chhattisgarh Ranjeet Ranjan questioned the attempts by the government to put the onus for the prevailing price rise on the conditions arising out of the Ukraine war and Covid-19 pandemic. “What about your policies and decisions taken and the mistakes made since the announcement of demonetisation. Renowned economists had cautioned about demonetisation not being the right decision and since demonetisation was executed the government has not been able to handle the situation,” she alleged. The member also alleged that the government used the subsidy plank under Ujjwala Yojana to woo voters. She said a significantly large number of beneficiaries who got gas connections and stoves under the scheme had not been able to get the cylinders refilled even once a year and a very large number could get the cylinders refilled only once.
Manoj Jha of RJD said the government’s decisions on prices and GST were affecting people “right from cradle to the grave”. “We know you got the mandate…but is this mandate a licence to brutalise (the people)?” he asked.
Sanjay Singh of AAP accused the government of anti-poor policies and instead trying to “enrich their capitalist friends”. Both he and Congress MP Shakti Sinh Gohil brought up the recent deaths in Gujarat caused by consumption of illicit liquor, saying that the victims were forced to drink “to get some sleep” after toiling all day. Raghav Chadha, the AAP MP who was making his maiden speech in Rajya Sabha, said farmers, both as producers and consumers, were facing the double blow of inflation.

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