Armed with basket of veggies worth ‘Rs 1,070’, Congress slams ‘Mehngai Man’ Modi over inflation


New Delhi: The Congress Tuesday launched an all-out attack against the Narendra Modi government over the issue of inflation, tagging Prime Minister Narendra Modi “Mehngai [inflation] Man”.

Addressing the media with a basket full of vegetables and spices of everyday use — such tomatoes, garlic, green chili and ginger — in front of her, the Congress’s national spokesperson Supriya Shrinate said, “we had read and heard about Super Man and Spider Man and now we have a Mehngai Man in India and his name is [Prime Minister] Narendra Modi”. She added, “This basket [the one in front of her] costs as much as Rs. 1070 today. But does the government care?”

The press conference came on a day when the price of commercial LPG gas cylinders went up by Rs. 7 — from Rs. 1,773 to 1,780 in Delhi.

“Modi ji, came to power with an empty promise of saving us from inflation” alleged Shrinate, adding that the price of flour had increased by 46 percent from 2013 — when the Congress was in power at the Centre; Modi became PM in 2014. Shrinate further listed that the price of rice had crossed Rs. 36 per kg, compared to the Rs. 25 in 2013. Pulses, priced at Rs. 72 per kg then, now come for more than Rs.160-170. Mustard oil has doubled from Rs. 90 per litre to Rs. 185, and even the price of salt has increased by 41 percent, she claimed.

Speaking at the Congress headquarters in Delhi, Shrinate also targeted the central government over “rising unemployment”, which she alleged was “at its highest in two years”. “The reality is that unemployment in the country is at a two-year peak. Has the government responded to it? They continue to look away,” the Congress leader alleged.

Shrinate, who is also the party’s chairperson of social media & digital platforms, said that the Modi government had no intentions to provide relief to the common people.

“If the government wants, it can reduce the prices immediately. Reduce excise duty, it’ll reduce prices of diesel, therefore transportation and vegetable prices will come down. Why is the government not doing it? Because it is busy making profits,” she alleged.

According to government data, retail inflation in India stood at 4.25 percent in May. This was the lowest in over two years. Food and beverages inflation also slipped from 4.16 percent in April to 3.29 percent in May.

Also read: Six years of GST — robust revenues but reforms key to easing compliance & boosting states’ incomes

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Comparing the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government at the Centre to the Congress government in states like Rajasthan and Karnataka, Shrinate alleged that the Modi government was not doing anything to control inflation.

“Look at Congress governments. Our Congress government in Rajasthan is committed to bringing relief. We are giving [LPG] cylinders for Rs. 500. Our government in Karnataka has made bus services free. That has left additional money in the hands of women,” she said.

The Congress laid down four primary demands from the Modi government.

Apart from demanding control in price hikes of essential commodities, Shrinate said, “People who are reeling under high prices need to be given some monetary help.. some fiscal help”.

She also demanded that the government removes the Goods and Services Tax (GST) from essential commodities like flour and yogurt and “stop profiteering” from the same. Talking about the price of diesel, Shrinate reiterated, “Rationalise the price of diesel to reduce the rising prices of vegetables”.

(Edited by Poulomi Banerjee)

Also read: Inflation eased, but here’s why RBI’s unchanged policy repo rate is likely to stay for some time



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