Beni shoots his mouth off, lands in controversy again
The Union minister has claimed that 2014 elections will be a contest between Rahul Gandhi and Narendra Modi
Virendra Nath Bhatt
Union Steel Minister Beni Prasad Verma’s outburst against the Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav and his claim that the galloping inflation was advantageous for the farmers has landed him in hot water. Verma had ridiculed the SP chief for his claim that the third front would form the next government at the Centre in 2014. Verma countered Yadav by claiming that the next government will be a tough battle between Rahul Gandhi and Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi. The minister has also advocated inflation saying the farmers get more money for their agricultural produce due to inflation.
Verma is the Congress MP from the neighbouring Gonda Lok Sabha seat. “I am happy with the rising prices as it will help farmers get more prices for their produce,” Verma had said in Barabanki on Sunday. Though Verma sought to deny the statement on Monday claiming that he was quoted out of context, he has drawn angry reaction from the Samajwadi Party and the BJP.
Verma also ruffled feathers of the state Congress leaders by claiming that he was in the Congress only with the blessings of Sonia and Rahul Gandhi and no other leader matters in the Congress. “The state Congress leaders were small-time leaders and they keep making noise like the seasonal frogs,” he had said. During the recent state assembly elections in March 2012 he had created controversy by claiming that PL Punia, Congress MP from Barabanki, was an outsider and had no stakes in Uttar Pradesh Congress since he comes from Haryana.
The Union minister in a statement on Sunday had alleged that Mulayam Singh was a traitor and he always ditched his political alliance partners. “Mulayam Singh Yadav has become senile, he is daydreaming to become the prime minister of India, that is why he has raised the bogey of third front winning the 2014 Lok Sabha polls,” said Verma adding, “next Parliament elections are going to be a contest between Rahul Gandhi and Narendra Modi and the rest will either be marginalised or will slip into political oblivion and Mulayam Singh would never be able to reach the top throne of the country.”
SP chief Yadav on August 18 had claimed in Lucknow that his party could form the next government at the Centre due to the possible resurgence of the third front in the next Lok Sabha elections. Yadav had dropped the hint that both national parties — Congress and BJP — may not fare well in the Lok Sabha elections and regional parties may win in their states.
Samajwadi Party, condemning the statement of Verma, said Monday 20 August that the Congress was routed during the last assembly elections due to the irresponsible utterances of Union steel minister and he is set to repeat the same blunder for the Congress in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. The SP spokesman Rajendra Chowdhary said, “It was only due to Mulayam Singh Yadav that Beni Verma is the Union minister today. A person who never went to jail during the Emergency and flourished in politics banking on the popularity of Mulayam Singh Yadav, has no moral authority to comment on the SP chief,” said Chowdhary adding, “Beni Verma lacks the political stature to comment on Mulayam Singh Yadav.” Chowdhary said the advocacy of inflation by the Union minister only shows the anti-people mindset of the party heading the ruling coalition at the Centre.
Condemning Verma’s statement on inflation Chowdhary said, “Beni Verma is drawing sadistic pleasure at the plight of the farmers whose back has been broken due to the constant increase in price of diesel and agriculture inputs.”
The UP unit of the BJP also condemned Verma’s statement. It said this shows the prevailing anarchy in the Congress where the prime minister has no control over his ministers. “How can a Union minister make such an irresponsible statement that the farmers are benefited by the inflation when a bag of urea fertilizer was being sold at Rs 1,250 against the control rate of Rs 550 per bag?” said UP BJP spokesperson Hridya Naryan Dikshit.
Virendra Nath Bhatt is a Special Correspondent with Tehelka.