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With inflation taking centrestage in the run-up to the Delhi Assembly elections, one of the promises made by Chief Minister Arvind Keriwal's Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in its manifesto was that it would take steps to control the escalating prices of essential commodities. With the AAP taking charge on Saturday, the party said it plans to discuss the issue of rising prices in mohalla sabhas in the coming months.
According to the AAP, it was necessary to deliberate on such issues with the ‘aam aadmi’ so that they are aware of why they are paying a certain price for such commodities and what can be done to control the prices.
When asked if the issue of price rise would be taken up in mohalla sabhas, Pankaj Gupta, member of AAP’s political affairs committee, said, “Yes, why not? We have to put facts in front of the public so that they understand the reasons behind the pricing of commodities and the reason behind price rise. The idea is to provide all the facts to people so that there can be a discussion... The response we get from the mohalla sabhas will help us make our policy decisions related to pricing.”
“This will also help expose monopolies, if any. Now, there are a lot of companies which are earning huge profits because they sell goods at inflated rates. This needs to be checked. At present, such facts are not available in the public domain,” an AAP member said.
The manifesto of the party states: “Today, prices of all things are increasing, like onions, tomatoes, water, power or the school fees of children... For the common man, the issue of price rise is related to essential commodities required by them... The complete solution of price rise cannot be found without changing the policies of the central government but the state government can take some steps to improve the situation...”
Speaking of ration shops, the manifesto states that these shops can help control price rise but, in Delhi, the system is steeped in corruption. “The AAP government, with the help of mohalla sabhas, will put an end to such corruption. Instead of cash transfer, they will ensure that there is an arrangement by which ration reaches the people directly. The ration will also include dal and oil.”
According to government officials, prices of commodities are determined by market supply and demand and the government can only provide such items at subsidised prices. “Most of the essential items are subsidised through ration shops and Mother Dairy outlets. The state government cannot regulate the prices through laws. Prices of commodities are determined by the supply and demand of a product,” an official said.