Across the country, from Calcutta to Mumbai, Delhi to Chennai, buyers are complaining about the high prices, bad quality and even a shortage of onions. The unabated, one-way price movement also led to protests. The backlash forced both the central and the state politicians and bureaucrats to sit up and initiate speedy action. For a good reason too.
In the recent past, onions have proved to be India's most politically sensitive crop. In 1998, a similar increase in its retail price led to the defeat of the BJP in four state elections—Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Delhi and Rajasthan. At that time, unseasonal monsoons and large-scale hoarding contributed to a shortage and retail prices shot up to