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Sharad Pawar Clarifies, I Have Not Attacked PM

PTI 25 Jan 2010, 17:00:54 PM IST

As BJP accused  Sharad Pawar of shifting blame on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for rising prices, the Agriculture Minister  dismissed the charge saying he had not not attacked Singh.

The NCP leader,  who has come under severe attack from from opposition parties and for some needling by ally Congress on the issue of price rise, said he had on Sunday  replied in the negative to a question whether the Congress was attacking him when he talked to reporters in Pune yesterday.

But his remarks in Pune  that he was  "not the only person involved in this process... The prime minister and all of us together decide the price policy" had raised a controversy.

Clarifying his remarks, Pawar said he had explained that the prices of farm produce are decided after recommendation by an experts committee to his ministry which forward its view to the Cabinet for a collective decision.

He suggested that when there was a decision taken collectively it was not true that a minister was being singled  out and there was no question of attacking the Prime Minister.

Latching on to his Pune remarks, BJP spokesman Ravi Shankar Prasad said  that Pawar was "making a mess" of the food economy of the country.

"Sharad Pawar is shifting the blame of price rise on the Prime Minister and the Cabinet.  It is a very sad spectacle of responsibility being shifted and the common people suffering cruelly because of price rise,"  said Prasad. He asked the Prime Minister and UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi to respond to Pawar's remarks.

Reacting to Pawar's remarks, Congress said the Congress today said the Agriculture Ministry should work pro actively with states to lower prices of essential commodities.

"So far as the Congress is concerned, the Union Agriculture Ministry needs to work pro actively with the state governments to see that the prices settle down," party spokesman Manish Tewari said.

He, however, did not find anything wrong in the remarks and said, "the Agriculture Minister has only enunciated the correct Constitutional position with regard to collective responsibility of the government and parliamentary system."

At the same time, he maintained, "There is a division of the government in various departments which look at the specific subjects."

Asked about the blame game between the states and the Centre over the matter, Tewari said there was no need to interpret this in terms of a war of words or a blame game. PTI