Price rise good for farmers, says Steel Minister

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Union Steel Minister Mr Beni Prasad Verma
Union Steel Minister Mr Beni Prasad Verma

Opposition asks PM to drop him from Cabinet

Union Steel Minister Beni Prasad Verma created a political storm on Monday by declaring that rising prices of essential commodities were helping farmers.

Verma’s erstwhile colleagues in the Samajwadi Party, an outside supporter to the UPA Government, and almost the entire Opposition lashed out at him, seeking his ouster from the Union Cabinet.

Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of a function in Barabanki, Verma said pulses, atta, rice and vegetables had become expensive. “The higher the prices, the better it is for farmers. I am happy with this inflation,” he said.

SP’s chief whip in the Lok Sabha Shailendra Kumar said the Minister had no sense of the ground situation.

“Farmers are struggling to make both ends meet. Input costs and other expenses of farming have increased three-fold. The Minister should be sacked from the Cabinet,” he said. The party also threatened to withdraw support to the UPA Government if people like Verma were allowed to continue in the Cabinet.

BJP spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain said the Minister’s statement reflected the UPA’s attitude towards issues affecting common people. The BJP said Verma should immediately withdraw his statement and apologise to farmers or the Prime Minister should drop him from his Cabinet.

Verma, however, stood by his remark.

“The rise in prices of potato, tomato and other vegetables is always highlighted. But this doesn’t happen when prices of cement, steel and cloth go up. Fees of public schools as also medical and engineering courses have gone up manifold, making it extremely difficult for children of farmers to pursue it,” he added.

(This article was published on August 20, 2012)
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