Lucknow / New Delhi: Union Minister for Steel Beni Prasad Verma seems to have made a habit out of courting controversies. His latest comments are not just likely to spell trouble for the Congress, but also will not go down well with the Samajwadi Party, that supports the UPA government at the centre.
Talking to reporters on the sidelines of a function in Barabanki, near Lucknow, on Sunday, the minister said he was happy with the rising prices of these food items as it will benefit farmers. "Dal, atta, vegetables have all become expensive. The more the prices rise the better it is. I am very happy with inflation," he said.
Clarifying his remark today he said, "I am happy when farmers' income increases. High food prices good for farmers." He added he was sticking to what he had said.
Mr Verma's inflation rationale has been slammed by the Opposition. "The Congress leaders are not affected by inflation at all. They are turning a blind eye to what inflation is doing to people. Hence they are saying senseless things like farmers are benefitting from inflation. This shows the Congress' mentality," BJP Shahnawaz Hussain said.
The Congress today tried to distance itself from Mr Verma's comments. "We put a stop on interest rate to control inflation. You should know that inflation is a matter of concern. I will offer sweets to him (Beni Prasad Verma) and ask him to keep his words sweet."
Verma hits out at Mulayam Singh Yadav
Taking a dig at the ruling Samajwadi Party in Uttar Pradesh, Mr
Verma also told reporters at Barabanki, "Mulayam Singh has gone mad. His dream of forming a
government at the Centre will never be realised."
Mr Verma has said the UP government has not been able to function properly due to "interference" of Mulayam Singh Yadav. He, however, said Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav was like his son and he wouldn't blame him for the failings of the state government.
The Samajwadi Party spokesperson, Rajendra Chaudhary described Mr Verma's remarks as "irresponsible and in bad taste."
"It is for the Congress to decide what action it needs to take," he added.
Mr Verma, a powerful leader of the Kurmi community in Uttar Pradesh, was
initially considered close to Mulayam Singh Yadav and served as the
Public Works Department (PWD) Minister in the Mulayam Singh government.
But he fell out with the Samajwadi Party supremo in 2007 and contested
the 2009 Lok Sabha elections on a Congress ticket.
In February this year, Mr Verma was in trouble over his remarks on the minority quota, at an election rally in Farukkhabad. He was let off with a warning by the Election Commission.
(with PTI inputs)
Story first published:
August 20, 2012 11:14 IST