One of the major failures of the BJP government at the Centre has been its ibility to control prices. Some political commentators are of the view that for a government that has tasted success on several fronts, the ibility to control prices stems from its ibility to control those who contributed fincially in large measure to the success of the BJP at the last Lok Sabha elections. The BJP now finds itself in the position of having to give a large body of industrialists and traders a free hand in the matter of recovering their expenses at the last Lok Sabha elections. People are beginning to wonder whether the BJP has given any thought to how strongly high prices and the failure to control galloping inflation affect a political party’s chances at the hustings. We have been witness to what onion prices have done to the electoral fortunes of political parties. In Assam, Sarbanda Sonowal’s 103-day-old government has been able to take a stronger stand than the Union government on some prices. The new government’s major thrust has been against the price of cement that is a good bit higher than what it is in other States. The firm stand that Sonowal’s government has been able to take against cement companies has resulted in the reduction of Rs 20 per bag of cement. While this is commendable, cement prices in Assam are still almost Rs 100 more per bag than they are in Bengal. And since people do not live by cement alone, it is far more important to be able to hold vegetable prices, since our daily bread (or rice) must be supplemented with vegetables as well. Vegetable prices have reached levels that are beyond the experience of most people. This is also true of the prices of pulses and processed food. So it is not enough just to bring down the price of cement. The government needs to bring down the prices of essential commodities within a wide format and to cement the reduced prices for a year or two.
Cementing Lower Prices