Only the highly incorrigible optimist would have expected the UPA to come out with a coherent policy to check the spiralling price rise in all essential commodities. The meeting of Congress Chief Ministers that discussed the price rise has proved more farcical and spurious than the last week'ssimilar exercise of the Congress Working Committee.
The CWC had blamed the central government for not taking a timely action to fight scarcity. The Congress Chief Ministers helpfully displayed their innovative skill in fixing escape routes. They continued to attack Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar for the delay in announcing Minimum Support Price holding it responsible for rising prices. The Minister was also attacked for allowing forward trading in foodgrains which many allege has led to speculative prices. But they decided to continue with the same policy.
More hilarious was their chutzpah that refused to own up any blame for the common man'ssuffering. The party rather put the onus on the NDA for ending the perverse inspector raj by amending in February 2002 the Essential Commodities Act to remove restrictions on the movement of foodgrains.
Scarcity is the contribution of the UPA to the common man. During six years of NDA rule prices were stable and all essential commodities were available in plenty. Under the UPA, if pulses and tomatoes go beyond the reach of the common man one can only say that the nation is paying the price for the desperate coalition'scynically retrograde actions that concentrated entirely on divisive sloganeering rather than effective governance.
In the Congress Working Committee the Prime Minister and Finance Minister reportedly attributed the unprecedented price rise in the past many months to crude oil price in the international market. This is only half of the story.
What the Congress needs to admit is the fact that the present crisis is the direct result of the wrong agriculture and food policies of the government. The UPA'sdecision to ban export of pulses and other items and allow duty-free import of wheat and sugar are not going to help. It will not in any way help in the immediate future.
India had taken giant strides under the NDA. The country achieved food security during this period. There was surplus to export and the stocks were overflowing. The euphoria was so high that the rulers felt confident to declare that India was shining. It took only two years for the UPA to turn hope into despair. And plenty into scarcity.
We are a nuclear power. But what a pity philanthropic world citizens are collecting aid for the Indian farmers? families, who were forced to commit suicide. The begging bowl is back. For food security and food self-sufficiency are signs of a country'sintrinsic strength. We have said this before and we will say it again, under the UPA aam aadmi finds it difficult to even feed his family. That today the UPA is going to import millions of tonnes of foodgrains reflects the failure of its food policy. The UPA came to power to allegedly save the aam aadmi. For him, the UPA has made everything unreachable. And in such a short span.
The autocratic manner in which Anbumani Ramdoss sought to remove Dr Venugopal, one of the most respected doctors in the country, has riled both the medical community and the man on the street. The minister and the doctor are portraits in contrast. Dr Venugopal joined the All India Institute of Medical Sciences as a junior doctor 46 years ago. He worked his way up. At a time when doctors leave government hospitals to land high-paid private hospital positions, many like Dr Venugopal stuck to their commitment to AIIMS. In this nearly five-decade service, there have been no charges against Dr Venugopal, till of course the minister found him wanting in ?discipline.?
In contrast, Anbumani Ramdoss became Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare on the labour and politics of his father S. Ramdoss. He has never fought an election, never held any office before this job. He joined his father'sPatttali Makkal Katchi in May 2004 and was sworn in as Cabinet Minister within a few days. He was elected to the Rajya Sabha a month later. Within this short period of being the minister A. Ramdoss has earned a name for favouritism, misuse of office and high-handedness.
Dr Venugopal, the first to perform heart transplant in the country in 1994, has been decorated with a Padma Bhushan. He has performed 50,000 open heart and 12,000 closed-heart surgeries in the last three decades. When he was appointed to the post of Director, AIIMS, by the NDA government in 2003, he was unwilling to give up the doctor'sgown for the mantle of an administrator. But well-wishers of AIIMS saw it as an opportunity to set a lot of things right at the premier institute. In retrospect, one would feel that Dr Venugopal'sinstinct was right, at least he would have been spared the humiliation of being sacked!
What is galling in the entire episode is that the Prime Minister, whose name the minister used to rush through the motion to sack Dr Venugopal, has kept mum. He has not denied that his name was used. The Congress party has dismissed it as something between the minister and an autonomous institution under him. The fact that the entire AIIMS has stood as one man in support of Dr Venugopal lays false the Congress claims.
The AIIMS episode is just one in the series of the UPA government'sagenda to destroy premier institutions. That'spart of the unwritten common minimum programme being supported by the Communists.