Pulse war breaks out on Bihar's electoral table
Patna: With a finger on the pulse of voters, rivals alliances in election-bound Bihar today served each other liberal portions of blame for rapidly vanishing pulses from the platter of the common man due to its soaring prices.
A day after Chief Minister Nitish Kumar used Prime Minister Narendra Modi's "na khaunga na khane doonga" remark to target the Centre over prohibitive prices of "poor man's meat", two Central ministers from Bihar blamed the state government for decline in production of pulses.
"The Centre wrote six letters to the state governments including the Bihar government to take benefit of 'Price Stabilisation Fund' to provide succour to the consumers, but the politically motivated Nitish Kumar government deliberately did not utilise it," Union Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh told reporters.
"Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Delhi and West Bengal which used the 'Price Stabilisation Fund', are selling pulses at Rs 120 to Rs 130 per kg through retail outlet," he said.
The price stabilisation fund is raised by the state to which Centre contributes 50 per cent of the money.
Union Food minister Ramvilas Paswan charged Kumar with not taking appropriate steps to contain prices of pulses only to "sully" the image of the Modi government during polls.
"Bihar government could have imported pulses if it had any concern for the people as there is 'zero' import duty on it. Who had stopped the state govenrment from importing pulses?" Paswan asked.
"Not only this, the Bihar government did not tell the Centre about the requirement of pulses when the Centre was planning to import it," Paswan said slamming the Nitish Kumar government.
As he came under attack, Nitish Kumar sought to turn the tables on the Centre for the skyrocketing pulse prices, this time hitting out at Modi over his "achhe din" (good days) comment and saying people wanted their "purane din" (old days) back.
"I feel laughing at Union ministers blaming me for skyrocketing prices of pulses. If it was so, the price of pulses should have been Rs 200 a kg only in Bihar...why is it selling at Rs 200 per kg in Gujarat, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh?" Kumar wondered while addressing an election rally at Nalanda.
With the political pot boiling over, pulses may have vanished from the people's platter but are the flavour of the election season.