Onion prices sting; political class pays lip service

Onion prices sting; political class pays  lip service

Rising onion prices continued to bring tears to the eyes of the common man even as politicians promised that the crisis was temporary and the prices would stabilise in a couple of weeks with new crop arrivals in the market.

With elections ahead, the political class swung into action with Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar, Consumer Affairs Minister K V Thomas and Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit discussing immediate steps to be taken to rein in the prices.

Pawar sought to reassure all that the prices would decline once the new crop hits the markets from Maharashtra, Karnataka and Rajasthan.

According to data compiled by the Consumer Affairs Ministry on 57 major cities, average onion prices rose by Rs 5 to Rs 75 a kg, with the price breaching Rs 90 a kg in Jammu.

Heavy rain in Maharashtra and Karnataka had affected the onion crop, while in many other areas farmers were yet to harvest the produce as monsoon blues continued.

However, there would be no drop in production as the total area under cultivation was higher than last year, Pawar said.

The upcoming elections to the Delhi assembly had Dikshit worried. She termed the situation “very serious” and has written to the Election Commission seeking permission to launch mobile vans to sell onions on a no profit, no loss basis.

Uncontrolled rise in onion prices ahead of the assembly elections in 1998 brought Congress victory in the national capital. Dikshit dislodged the Sushma Swaraj government then and has been at the helm ever since. But, the return of the onion crisis definitely has her worried.

Commerce Minister Anand Sharma said there was no “real” scarcity of onions and prices are expected to stabilise in the coming weeks. 

Congress spokesperson Meem Afzal suspected “some conspiracy” by forces inimical to the party ahead of assembly polls in five states this year.

Comments (+)