Can buy ice cream for Rs 20, but not fuel, Chidambaram asks middle class
Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram who is tipped to be the next Finance Minister, sees nothing wrong in rising prices of fuel or other commodities and wonders why the urban middle class is worked up on the issue of inflation.
In fact, on Tuesday chided the urban middle class for bemoaning soaring prices of fuel and essential commodities? "There's steady rise in the minimum support price of paddy, wheat and sugarcane, reflected in the prices of commodities . When the urban middle class can buy a bottle of mineral water for Rs 15 and ice cream for Rs 20, why do they make so much noise about price rise?" asked Chidambaram, showing a contemptuous and insensitive attitude, rubbing salt into the wounds f the groaning population.
Trying to justify increase in prices, Chidambaram said, "The rise has directly benefited farmers. We raised fuel prices because the global crude prices had gone up. We also gave relief by bringing down the petrol price twice. There needn't be any complaint for price rise when things are on the side of poor farmers."
The Home Minister was again briefing the media in Bangalore about the UPA's achievements.
He said some strategies would strengthen the economy. "The main thrust should be on checking wasteful expenditure, increasing savings and investment in financial instruments rather than gold and higher production of output in fuel, iron ore and coal," he said.
There's a need to increase overseas investment in Indian corporations, he added.
Chidambaram hoped the National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC) envisaged by the Centre would get support from non-Congress CMs.
Many state governments have opposed the NCTC because they feel it would infringe on the powers of state governments as a person may be arrested by any officer of this new agency. "The Naresh Chandra Committee report on national security has stressed the need for an agency to tackle militancy and terrorist activities across the country. We'll try to convince state governments on this and bring about a consensus. I hope over time everyone will accept it," he said.
BJP deplores remarks
Opposition BJP lashed out at Home Minister P Chidambaram for his remarks that the middle class is ready to pay for mineral water and ice-cream but can't bear an increase of Re 1 in price of wheat and rice, saying he has shown insensitivity towards them and ridiculed them.
"It seems that Chidambaram has inappropriately made a scandalous remark against the middle class and is ridiculing them. BJP would treat this remark as a complete hate statement reflecting the inner contradictions of the government itself," BJP spokesperson Rajiv Pratap Rudy said.
He claimed that while the government has failed to deliver and rein in prices, control inflation or find a way out of the economic mess, the Home Minister has chosen to "torment the hapless common man". Rudy termed Chidambaram's statement as bizarre.
"This stinks of complete insensitivity and BJP completely deplores the words of Mr Chidambaram. But at the same time nothing better is expected from this government and its ministers," he said.
Another BJP spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain said Chidambaram does not understand the pain of the common man as he is confined to "air-conditioned rooms and flying in planes". "Chidambaram and the Congress are far removed from the common man. His comments are a joke on the people in a country where 50-60 crore live below the poverty line," he said.
- Asian Tribune –