India

Indian media: Rising onion prices to affect poll calculations

Analysts say rising onion prices will affect the ruling Congress party's chances in upcoming state polls
Image caption Analysts say rising onion prices will affect the ruling Congress party's chances in the upcoming state polls

Media in India feel a steep rise in onion prices has the potential of disturbing political parties' calculations ahead of key elections in five states.

The prices of vegetables, especially onions, may not be an important poll issue in many parts of the world, but it is a different story in India.

Onions are an important part of any middle-class family's shopping list and the current price of almost 100 rupees (just over a pound) a kg, up from the usual 15-20 rupees, is making lives tough.

"With five states going to the polls in December and general elections slated for early next year, the issue of price rise has become more political than economic for the Congress-led government. And the sky-high prices of onions have given the opposition a potent weapon to attack the government with," says the Hindustan Times.

Financial daily the Mint reports that the government has decided to import onions to avoid "a political backlash ahead of a crucial round of state elections".

The Telegraph says "the onion is driving the Congress to tears with barely six weeks left before Delhi votes (in the assembly elections)".

"An aspiring candidate in Delhi... is now worried more about the 'people's anger' at onion prices than about getting the nod to contest," the paper adds.

Meanwhile, the government is considering several infrastructure projects in Seemandhra, the coastal part of the southern state of Andhra Pradesh, a report in the Hindustan Times says.

The projects aims to "cool tempers" in Seemandhra over a recent decision to split Andhra Pradesh and form a new state of Telangana, the paper says.

The projects could include high-profile engineering and management colleges as well as a top-level training hospital, central university, metro railway, international airport and research institutes, it adds.

The region of Seemandhra has opposed the state's division.

'Amateur gold-diggers'

Meanwhile, archaeologists are worried over a spurt in incidents in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh where amateur gold-diggers have dug up historical sites in a bid to find buried treasure, the Hindustan Times reports.

The diggers have "damaged sites of historical and religious importance in the bargain", the paper says, adding that the attempts come after the Archaeological Survey started excavation work at a fort near Unnao in what it said was a response to a geological report about metal deposits at the site.

However, media reports say the excavation came after a local religious leader said he had dreamt that a vast quantity of gold was buried at the site.

In other news, the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation has joined hands with the National Book Trust to "cultivate the reading habit" among commuters in the capital, the First Post website reports.

The two organisations have signed a deal under which book shops will be set up at two Metro stations and commuters will get a discount on all purchases, the report says.

Staying with travel-related news, the Indian railways will now offer sugar-free meals for diabetic travellers on premium trains, reports The Pioneer.

Railway authorities have ordered the "supply of sugar-free meals to diabetic passengers on demand", the report says.

And finally, the Supreme Court has ordered periodic checking of soft drinks to ensure food-safety standards are met but has rejected a plea seeking to force cola-makers to list their ingredients on labels, the NDTV website reports.

The ruling comes after a petition alleged that the ingredients have "serious deleterious effects" on health.

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