Consumer Affairs Minister Ram Vilas Paswan’s efforts to put the blame of price rise on the previous UPA Government was criticised by the members of a united Opposition.

During a debate on the price rise in Rajya Sabha, Opposition members asked the Centre to stop blaming the erstwhile government and start addressing the issue of price rise as “it is killing people”.

Paswan said he was ready to accept suggestions from the members. He, however, said prices of essential commodities, except pulses, have come down during the last one year. His statement that increase in prices is similar to the interest added to savings in banks irked the Opposition benches further. Before walking out, leader of the Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad said Pawasn’s statements can invite breach of privilege proceedings against him. “Prices on all essential items increased and the Minister denies it. He puts the blame on States. This is not acceptable,” Azad added.

Replying to the four-hour-long debate, Paswan said on pulses, the country still has to depend on imports. He said the Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) Act will have to be amended to ensure action against black marketers. “States should raid those middlemen who are encouraging hoarding,” he said.