Patna, Oct 18
[dropcap color=”#008040″ boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]T[/dropcap]he pulse crisis in India has come as boon for the ‘grand alliance’ led by Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar in the poll battle of Bihar. There are indications that Nitish Kumar and his comrade-in-arm Lalu Prasad are going to make the skyrocketing prices of ‘dal’ a staple poll issue in the remaining phases of the elections.
Prices of pulses have more than doubled during the last few months , making them out of the reach of the poor and derailing the kitchen budget of the middle class households. The centre took its own time to react to the crisis. By the time it was able to import huge quantity of pulses, the prices had doubled up. After the casteist battle cry of Lalu Yadav, Prime minister Narendra Modi’s questioning of Nitish Kumar’s DNA, Lalu’s ‘narbhakshi’ (man eater) attack on Amit Shah and general gutter-level debates in the course of campaigning, the ‘humble’ dal can dominate the poll battle in the next three phases.
“Everyone knows that pulse production has suffered heavily during the last two years due to deficient rains, The JD(U) leaders are in the habit of making wild allegations
– Rajinder Gupta, BJP State Vice-President
But here too it’s not only about the rise in price of pulse , but the way it is being interpreted by the JD(U) leaders that can once again embitter the entire debate. They are packaging it as major scandal to push the BJP on the back foot. They may not have evidence to support their claims that the BJP was paid by hoarders of the pulses ,but then who cares for evidence in a battle where all notion of propriety have been compromised.
“Majority of the pulse-growing states are ruled by the BJP. We have come to know that the party has taken huge donations from traders of pulses for the Bihar elections. The BJP is party of hoarders., and now these pulse hoarders getting their money back. If the BJP wins the Bihar polls, the prices of pulsesd will shoot up more as they will allow the hoarders to loot the common man,” says JD(U) spokesperson Sanjay Singh.
[dropcap color=”#008040″ boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]S[/dropcap]ingh does not agree that deficient rain last year alone contributed to shortfall in the production of pulses which led to rise in the price. “ I agree that production in 2014-15 fell to 17.20 million tonnes (mt) from 19.25 mt in 2013-14, but then why did prices shoot up just at the time of elections? The traders were force to pay to the BJP for its election expenses.”
Singh said prices of pulses will be key issue for the grand alliance in the next three phases of the poll campaign.”We are going to expose the BJP and remind the people of the tall promises made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the Lok Sabha campaign to bring down prices of consumer products.”
However, state BJP vice-president Rajinder Gupta debunked these charges, saying the states were deliberately not picking up imported pulses made available by the Centre to create an artificial crisis. “Everyone knows that pulse production has suffered heavily during the last two years due to deficient rains, The JD(U) leaders are in the habit of making wild allegations,” he said.
While the monsoon was insufficient this year, too, unseasonal rains and hailstorm in March damaged major areas of pulse cultivation. Since India is one of the largest consumers, producers and importers of the pulses, the shortfall in production has given a golden chance to speculators and traders to jack up the prices. The Government may do all the explaining, but the rising prices of pulses have given yet another poll plank to the opposition.
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