Rajya Sabha

September 7, 2013

Sukhendu Sekhar Roy speaks on the abnormal price rise of essential commodities

Sir, on both, the Appropriate Bill and price rise, on behalf of my Party, only I will speak. So, I request you, Sir, to kindly give me some more time. Sir, I have nothing to say about the Appropriation Bill because it is almost a ritual to discuss the Appropriation Bill. But, in this regard, I would like to draw the attention of the hon. Finance Minister to Office Memorandum dated 24th October, 2005 vide which 11 States including Kerala, Punjab and West Bengal were included in the indicative list of debt-stressed States. So, there is no denying the fact that my State West Bengal is suffering from huge debt burden since 2004-05, according to the Government records. Sir, it is also a fact that we have inherited from the previous Government, which ruled and ruined West Bengal for long 34 years, a sum of Rs.2,03,000 crores as the debt burden.

And, from day one, our hon. Chief Minister is making appeals, repeated appeals, to the Government to kindly consider our request. We are not asking for any dole or a ‘special status’ category. We are asking for a temporary relief, interim relief in the form of moratorium on the principal amount as well as restructuring of the interest amount. Time and again, the Central Government has assured the State Government that some concrete measures will be taken in this regard. We had several discussions; our Chief Minister had several discussions; the officers had several discussions; and even the Members of Parliament belonging to our Party met the predecessor of the present Finance Minister in his office on a number of occasions and we are assured that the Government is seized of the matter and it will take positive steps. Even in this House, Sir, an assurance was given in reply to my question on 24th of April, 2012 by the hon. Minister of State for Finance, Namo Narain Meenaji, and I quote only one or two lines of it. I quote, “A letter has been received from the State Government of West Bengal requesting an interest and repayment moratorium on the outstanding debt of the State in the form of an annual grant for a period of three consecutive years which is under examination.” So, for a long one-and-a-half year, the examination is going on without yielding any result, without delivering any positive result as yet. We have heard that the hon. Finance Minister is visiting the States. We cannot say whether it is in search of new allies or otherwise. But he is on record saying that a Committee has been constituted to redefine the backward State set-up. We have no objection to it. If some States get relief, we shall be happy because they are our brethren; they are our neighbours, Bihar, Odisha, Jharkhand or any other State for that matter. We cannot have any objection because all the States are integral part of India and all States have different problems. But why are we being deprived? I am asking myself, and pat comes the reply that there is no reason except that it is part of a political vendetta only because we withdrew our support from the Government. This is very unfair, Sir. This is my first submission.

Secondly, so far as the price rise is concerned, my hon. colleagues have already expressed many things. So, I will touch only two-three points. The food price inflation is about ten per cent. The onion price rose by 117 per cent compared to last year’s price in August, as replied by the hon. Consumer Affairs Minister in reply to my question very recently in this House. Although its prices have started falling down, it is coming down, but the corrective measures must have been taken much earlier. Profiteering was allowed to continue unabated, hitting the common man. Sir, as Prasantda has said, the price of rice, wheat and all other food articles is still on the rise, and what to say about the price of petroleum products, particularly, diesel and petrol, which is being increased almost every fortnight on an average! It is reported that there will be further hike in the diesel and cooking gas price soon after today’s Session is over, and that too at the rate of five rupees or so.

Sir, according to experts, vast areas of our country including the coastal area, the Sunderbans delta and the entire NorthEastern Region is floating on oil, but to help strengthen profiteering of the import lobby of crude oil and gas, the Government has not taken much initiatives for oil exploration.

Sir, the Government put a cap on LPG last year. Let the hon. Finance Minister apprise the House how much money has been saved by putting the cap, in the last one year. According to our estimates, it is not more than Rs.1,500 cores. ir, the Planning Commission made an assessment that only those who earn Rs. 25 or less per day in rural areas and Rs.32 or less per day in urban areas are poor. Does it mean that the others are not poor? The Planning Commission has also claimed that poverty has been brought down to almost 21 per cent, while the World Bank Report published in April this year says that one-third of the world’s poorest of the poor live in India, and they number 40 crores; 40 crore people of India are the poorest of the poor in the entire world as per the report published by the World Bank in April this year!

Lekin Sir, kisi Congressi neta ne keh diya ki Mumbai me 12 rupiya me khana milta hai, to dusra neta chaunk pada aur kehne laga ki Delhi ke Jama Masjid ke area me 5 rupiya me bharpet khana milta hai. Sir, mujhe ye dekh kar Kishore Kumar k eek gaane ki line yaad aa gayi aur film ka naam `Chalti ka naam Gaadi’ tha. Kishore Kumar Madhubala ke saath ye gaana gaa reh the. Film ‘Chalti ka naam Gaadi` me kishore kumar ye gaana gaa reh the `paanch rupaiyaa baara aana, maarega bhaiyaa na na na na’. Abhi Congress netaon ne ye naya gaana shuru kar diya hai. Baat paanch rupaiyaa baara aana ki nahi hai, abhi naya sangeet paanch rupiyaa aur 12 rupiyaa ka hai. Agar Congress ki gaadi iss tarah chalti rehgi, to kitne dino tak garibon ke saath mazak chalta rehga. Aaj yeh sawal payda ho gaya hai.

Sir, this Government has, in fact, declared war against the common people, because whenever a commoner goes to the market and touches any vegetable, food article or essential commodity, he gets the shock of an electrocution. Such is the price situation in the market prevailing today.

Hence, according to my Party, this Government has denied and deprived the poor people of this country even an animal existence and, therefore, this Government must go.

Thank you.