Patna: Countering criticism of BJP by rival parties in Bihar polls over rising prices of pulses, Union Minister Arun Jaitley today said the Centre is taking steps to quell the crisis through imports and asked the JD(U)-led state government to act against hoarders to provide succour to the people.
"The production of pulses declined, nationally and globally. Pulses production declined by 5 million tonnes this year in the country, which was further aggravated by hoarding.
"The central government is taking steps to contain the prices and that includes importing pulses," Jaitley told reporters here.
Announcing that 12 state governments had acted against hoarders and recovered 50,000 tonnes of pulses stocked illegally, he said that Bihar would "benefit" if action was taken against hoarders in the state.
"If Bihar government acts against hoarders, people of the state would be benefited," he said.
Asked by reporters about pulses selling at Rs 200/kg, Jaitley said that while, around one-and-a-half-years ago, inflation was at 12 per cent, it was now down to between three and four per cent.
Prices of various items like diesel, petrol, metal, sugar and wheat have declined globally and nationally, but not that of pulses, he said.
The issue of the prices of pulses is being vociferously raised by grand secular alliance leaders Nitish Kumar and Lalu Prasad to attack the BJP-led NDA government at the Centre.
The rival parties are looking to corner BJP over what they have charged is its "failure' to contain the prices of essential commodities.
To counter the attack, NDA had earlier fielded Union ministers Radha Mohan Singh and Ram Vilas Paswan with the duo blaming the state government for the situation.
They claimed that the Bihar government did not do anything to boost the production of pulses and also failed to act against hoarders.
Meanwhile, responding to queries regarding the controversy over remarks by his ministerial colleague VK Singh and the induction of controversial former state minister Bhim Singh into BJP, Jaitley said, "They are closed chapters as the minister has explained the things while Bhim Singh has already apologised for his martyrs remark."
Bhim Singh had said in 2013 that people join the armed forces to become martyr.
Jaitley also sought to dismiss Kumar's emphasis on development under him in Bihar and charged that the senior JD(U) leader was executing a "failed development model" that could not create job opportunities for the people in the state.
Jaitley termed "scary" the grand secular alliance of JD(U), RJD and Congress in which, he averred, Lalu Prasad was a "liability" who would make things go from "bad to worse" for the grouping.
He claimed that it is "advantage BJP" in the first two phases of the elections and, in the remaining three phases, there are areas where BJP would sweep the polls.
"We (BJP) will get majority on our own, and when numbers of allies will be added, it will be a decisive majority," he claimed.
Asked if the PM's 17 rallies scheduled for the remaining three phases reflected panic in the saffron camp, he said, "There is no panic at all. We will leave no stone unturned to win Bihar elections."
Criticising the Kumar government's performance, the Union minister said, "JD(U) government did some preliminary works such as constructing some schools and roads but beyond that, it failed to have a larger vision for setting up power plants, industrial units and higher educational institutions." Meanwhile, in reply to a query over Kumar's visit to a 'tantrik', he said. "Tantra mantra will not work when your situation becomes weak."