Mandate to check prices with Pawar’s ministry: Congress


New Delhi : Apparently peeved with Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar’s meeting with Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray, the Congress Monday sought to put the minister in a spot on the issue of price rise, saying his ministry has the main responsibility for tackling the problem.

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Congress spokesman Manish Tewari said the mandate for controlling food prices lay with the agriculture and food ministries, but added that inflation was also the concern of the central government.

Tewari said that controlling prices was “a collective but differentiated responsibility”.

Responding to queries, he said the Congress has never indulged in bashing up its allies but the party was within its right to express the concern of millions on the price rise. Pawar heads the Nationalist Congress Party, a member of the ruling United Progressive Alliance.

Asked about Pawar’s Sunday meeting with Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray regarding Indian Premier League cricket matches, Tewari said the party was not concerned about who met whom.

Privately, however, Congress leaders said the visit of the union minister was not necessary. They did admit that the relationship between the NCP chief and the Shiv Sena leader was not new, and added that Pawar was not sports minister but minister of agriculture.

They maintained Pawar’s visit was a vote of no-confidence in Maharashtra Home Minister R.R. Patil, who belongs to NCP.

Pawar’s visit came on a day when union Home Minister P. Chidambaram assured people of firm action against the “divisive agenda” of the Shiv Sena.