Mamata hits out at Shah, blames Centre for hike in prices of potato and onion

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Kolkata, Nov 5 (PTI) West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee tHursday hit out at Union Home Minister Amit Shah for asking the people of the state to 'uproot ' the TMC government in the 2021 state polls and said it was the duty of the Centre to ensure that the people could buy the essential foodstuff they need.

Banerjee said she will write to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to restore the states' power to control prices of essential food items like potato and onion, which have skyrocketed, or the Centre should take control of the pricing itself.

The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill in which potatoes and onions were removed from the list of key food commodities, is 'anti people' and aimed at protecting blackmarkteers and the hoarders, she said.

Hitting out at Shah, who is on a two-day visit to check the poll preparedness ahead of the 2021 state polls, the TMC supremo who is a strident critic of the saffron party said, 'You will uproot Mamata Banrjee government. Who will uproot you for such increase in the prices of potatoes and onions ? You have to see what people will eat. There is a pandemic going on in the market too.' Blaming the centre for the increase in the two staple food commodities, she said 'It's a very worrisome situation that the central government has totally failed in controlling the price of potatoes and onions. It is also not letting the state government take control of the price of these items which has resulted in steep price rise,' Banerjee said at an administrative review meeting at the secreatriat, Stating that she will write to the prime minister for restoring the states' power in respect of controlling prices of essential food items, Banerjee said several states have already done so. 'Or else you (Centre) take control of the prices, I do not have any problem. I can foresee people dying without food, ' she said.

Continuing her attack against the BJP-led government at the Centre for the bill, Banerjee said 'I do not understand why suddenly their focus shifted to the essential commodities.

The Bill was passed to protect the hoarders and the blackmakerters. This is an anti-people bill ... The result is the price hike'.

The chief minister said that the price of potatoes and onions are rising at a time when people have lost their jobs amid the economic slowdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Banerjee asked chief secretary Alapan Bandyopadhyay, who was present at the meeting, to conduct a survey by a combined team of the enforcement and the agricultural departments to keep a check on any wrongdoings in the increase in prices of the two food commodities.

The Parliament had on September 23 passed the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill to remove cereals, pulses, oilseeds, edible oils, onion and potatoes from the list of essential commodities. PTI SCH KK KK