Indian capital Delhi gripped by ‘onion war’ – Telegraph
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) activists demonstrate against the spiralling price of onions Photo: SANJEEV GUPTA/EPA
Dean Nelson in New Delhi
20 Aug 2013
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the anti-corruption Aam Admi (Common Man) parties have opened greengrocery vans in the capital Delhi to sell heavily subsidised onions to embarrass the government and highlight eye-watering price increases.
Onions are a key ingredient of most Indian dishes and are regarded as a basic right throughout the country. They are also widely regarded as a sensitive political issue – the BJP government collapsed in 1998 amid anger, among other things, over onion prices which hit 60 rupees (60 pence) per kilogramme.
In recent weeks prices have soared to 80 rupees (80 pence) per kilogramme, provoking a political outcry.
The BJP and the Aam Admi Party believe the anger aroused by the shortage and price increase could help oust the ruling Congress Party from power in Delhi’s state elections in November.
Their campaign has been dismissed by Delhi’s Congress chief minister Sheila Dikshit, who said prices had already started to fall. She criticised the BJP and the AAP, which had opened six inion outlets between them.
The opposition parties are selling their onions for between 25 rupees and 40 rupees per kilo (25 pence), while commercial shops have been selling them for between 60 and 80 rupees.
Mrs Dikshit said government-subsidised greengrocers will sell onions at between 35 and 40 rupees per kilo this week. But anger and desperation are so great that security guards will be deployed to maintain order when the lower-priced onions go on sale.
The BJP’s national secretary Anil Jain said his party had learned from bitter experience the power of onions.
“As the main opposition party we are concerned on the growing prices of all the commodities including petroleum products but as there is a strong public sentiment for the onions in India. Onion is very important for all the sections of society in India, particularly the poor, which can survive on just onions and bread,” he said.