Patna: Facing flak for their absence from Delhi during the ongoing dal price crisis, Central minsters Ram Vilas Paswan and Radha Mohan Singh chose to take the battle to the enemy camp today.
The Food Minister and the minister of agriculture chose to bat out of Bihar - where they have been for the last two months, campaigning for the assembly elections.
Addressing a joint press conference at the BJP office in Patna, the ministers, who are also lawmakers from Bihar, targetted political rival and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar over the rise of dal prices.
Their charge was that it suited the political agenda of Mr Kumar -- the leader of the anti-BJP coalition in the state -- not to take pro-active steps to bring down the price of pulses in the state.
"The state government is worthless. Let the Bihar assembly results come out, in two days you sell see the prices of dal will come down," said food minister Mr Paswan.
"I want to say openly that whatever Nitish Kumar may say about dal prices, he is totally responsible. He has taken no steps to facilitate lower prices," added the agriculture minister, Mr Singh.
"For states that cooperated with us, we are opening outlets and we will give them dal at subsidised rates," the minister said.
There was even some praise for the Arvind Kejriwal-led Delhi government, which otherwise is at loggerheads with the Centre over a host of issues.
"Some governments are very proactive, like the Delhi government, which is buying dal from us and selling at subsidised rates," said Mr Paswan.
Despite receiving Central assistance, the production of dal is coming down in the state for the last three years, the ministers said.
But both of them appeared a little vague when asked why dal prices were high across the country and not just in Bihar.
Bihar Chief minister Nitish Kumar tweeted his response in a few hours, saying, "As dal prices soar, instead of responding to the situation created by their own inaction and incompetence, the Government of India shamelessly tries to blame states."
He also shared a photo on his Facebook page, using the Centre's own statistics of dal prices in different cities to drive home his point that dal is getting out of reach not just in Bihar but across India.
As Dal prices soar instead of responding to the situation created by their own inaction & incompetence GoI shamelessly...Posted by Nitish Kumar on Tuesday, October 20, 2015