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Panellists feel that BJP must listen to both economists and the common man to control inflation, save poor from skyrocketing costs

Rising petrol and diesel prices have led to an increase in overall prices. Now the rates of CNG, PNG and online shopping have gone up. Auto and cab operators, too, might be driven to increase fares, and the rising gas cylinder rates have affected budgets of families. APN’s popular debate Mudda discussed the issue. Anchorperson Anant Tyagi spoke to panellists, including BJP’s Vijay Khera, Congress’s Hilal Naqvi, economists Tapan Bharti and Sharad Kohli, and APN consultant Govind Pant Raju.

Khera said: “Rates of subsidised cylinders have not been affected. The poor will not have to suffer. For those who don’t take subsidies, prices have gone up. Costs have not gone up dramatically at all. The BJP had come to power promising rationality of prices and the costs are under control.”

Naqvi said:”The BJP is caught amidst corrupt leaders. Now it is getting desperate and increasing prices. How can the BJP representative say the poor have not been affected? That’s not true. Tax collections have been below expectations.”

Kohli said: “I disagree that this government is corrupt. Let’s stick to the facts.” This led to wrangling between Kohli and Naqvi.

Kohli added: “Tax collection is going as per expectations.  If petrol and diesel prices go up, middle class budgets get affected, because diesel has a cascading effect, and affects a newborn baby or a homemaker in a village. A rectifying balancing act needs to be accomplished now.”

Bharti said: “To a certain extent, increased costs are important for the economy. China and India’s economies are growing. If production of oil goes up globally, that will affect the economy in India as well. China has stocks for 3-4 months. We should not depend on oil alone. Why not solar energy? We need to develop alternate sources of energy, like from desert areas or Arunachal, as has been proposed in the past.”

Raju said: “The common man’s life has been affected. Food is more expensive now. Diesel prices affect agriculture, transport sector, and overall economy. The government should have been more serious in tackling inflation.”

Kohli said:”If prices of petrol and diesel are not checked, the future looks bleak.”

Khera said: “Don’t talk hypothetically.”

Naqvi said, ”If petrol and diesel rates go up, cost of production goes up, so prices go up. If prices don’t go up, the BJP is doing some magic (laughs). From 2014 onwards, why have taxes on petrol and diesel gone up? Are rates going up every day?”

Bharti said: “If dollar rates go up, petrol and diesel prices go up. We have to look for alternative sources and not depend on solely on petrol and diesel. Inflation is affecting all sectors, the only thing that is cheaper is real estate.”

Kohli said: ”Toilets, rural electrification and many such projects have been launched for the common man. Talking purely from the economy point of view, taxes go up because projects have been undertaken. There is a psychological affect and the inflationary affect. Common man feels that he is bombarded everyday by price rise. Government should look at economic policies with a fresh perspective.”

Raju said: “The government has spent money on infrastructure projects. The poor are feeling the pinch. Such development does not affect the common man. When the BJP had the India Shining campaign, the common man felt differently. With elections coming closer, BJP needs to assess the situation.”

Kohli said: “Petroleum companies are all under the control of the government. If GST Council wants, these prices can come under GST. The government needs to do a balancing act, listen to both the economists and the common man.”

Raju said: “The government feels it is on the right track, common man feels differently. The coming elections will give the report card on the government’s performance.”

—Niti Singh Bhandari

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