The government’s heartbeat has increased as prices of potatoes, onions and tomatoes have risen just before the Bihar Assembly elections. The government has tried to control rising prices by banning onion exports, but potatoes and tomatoes are still ‘red’. The government believes that there is a system to reduce the price of onion but the potato-tomato is out of reach. This could increase the difficulty of the NDA.
The government’s problem is that the opposition has already begun to turn inflation into a political issue. It is the responsibility of the Union Ministry of Consumer Affairs to control the prices of essential commodities. The ministry is headed by Ram Bilas Paswan, a senior leader of the Lok Janshakti Party, so the opposition will do its utmost to surround the BJP, JDU and LJP on this issue. People are already going through problems because of the Corona epidemic.
Consumer Affairs Secretary Leena Nandan said exports have been banned to curb rising onion prices. With this, the ministry is taking a few more steps. If onion prices are out of reach, the central government also has buffer stocks. This time the onion buffer stock has almost doubled compared to last year. The government has buffer stock of about one lakh tonnes of onions this year. Last year it was 57 thousand tons.
Monitoring the price monitoring department
A senior ministry official said it was not yet time to intervene through buffer stocks as onion prices had not yet reached that high. The rise in potato and tomato prices is certainly worrisome, as the government and the ruling party have no reasonable reason to convince people at this time. The retail price of potato has reached Rs. 50 per kg. The government has limited authority to control the price of potatoes. Potatoes and onions have already been taken out of the essential commodity law. However, the price monitoring department of the consumer ministry is still monitoring their prices on a daily basis.
Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal produce the most potatoes. Market availability has declined this year due to shortage of potatoes in both the states. A new potato crop is expected in the second week of November. The price of tomato has also reached Rs 70 per kg. The movement of vegetables has also been disrupted due to rains. In such a situation the price is expected to be lower.