Devlet Bahçeli, the leader of the far-right National Movement Party (MHP), on late Wednesday labelled recent complaints over rising vegetable prices in Turkey as a rhetoric of poverty used for political gains, Habertürk reported .
Bahçeli, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s political ally in parliament, said tomatoes, aubergines, and onions had unfortunately become the new focus of Turkish politics.
“Those who eat onions are obvious, those who eat aubergines are obvious. Nobody dies saying “I could not eat aubergine today,” Bahçeli told reporters in the capital Ankara. He spoke five weeks before nationwide local elections, which are expected to be hotly contested because of a severe economic downturn in the country.
Food price inflation in Turkey surged to an annual 31 percent in January, its highest level since at least 2004, as the price of aubergines, cucumbers and tomatoes jumped 81 percent, 53 percent and 39 percent, respectively.
The Turkish government blames some producers and warehouses for over-pricing and hoarding, and the authorities have imposed fines on suppliers and companies accused of price-fixing. The Ankara and Istanbul municipalities began selling vegetables and fruit at temporary sales points in urban locations last week, while the transportation ministry started online sales.