As onion prices continue to rise, a worried Congress-led Delhi government has written to the Election Commission for permission — the model code of conduct being in place — to sell onions at cheaper rates. Onions are currently selling Rs 100 a kg in certain areas of the city.
The assessment at a meeting Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit had with Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar and Food Minister K V Thomas was that the onion prices was an “emotional issue” which has to be tackled.
The plan worked out was to augment the supplies in Delhi — both through import and procurement from domestic markets — to push the prices down and thereby limit the political damage.
“Onion shortage is a temporary situation. Heavy rain has affected crops in Karnataka and Maharashtra. The total area under the crop is higher than last year. No drop in production is expected,” Pawar said.
“The situation is serious. We are trying to stabilise the prices. We have written to the Election Commission to allow us to restart sale of onions through mobile vans. Traders and hoarders are taking advantage of the situation. NAFED has been asked to improve supplies on a no-profit-no-loss basis,” Dikshit said.
The situation is a throwback to 1998 when the Congress defeated the BJP in Assembly elections after a high-voltage campaign which was pivoted on the issue of onion prices.
Thomas spoke to Maharasthra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan who promised that his government was ready to sent as much onion as possible at Rs 50/kg.
The Delhi government rushed a three-member team to Nashik to make arrangements for purchasing onions for supply in the capital. Sources said Pawar advised Dikshit to purchase from Pune as well. From the meeting itself, sources said, Pawar called trader body representatives in Pune.
Pawar told the meeting that Pune markets were ready to supply onions at roughly Rs 35 to Rs 40 per kilo within two days.