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Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman faces pungent barbs over spiralling onion prices

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman speaks in the Lok Sabha on December 4, 2019 when she said that she didn’t eat much of onion or garlic and she belonged to a family which does not eat onion and garlic. Photo: LSTV

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman speaks in the Lok Sabha on December 4, 2019 when she said that she didn’t eat much of onion or garlic and she belonged to a family which does not eat onion and garlic. Photo: LSTV  

What does she eat, avocado, asks Chidambaram in response to Nirmala Sitharaman’s comment.

The debate on unaffordable onions took on a sharp and pungent flavour on Thursday, with stinging volleys greeting Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s comment on the vegetable in the Lok Sabha the previous day.

Former Finance Minister P. Chidambaram, who came to Parliament on Thursday, a day after his release from Tihar jail, told the media: “I thought the Finance Minister said in Parliament yesterday that she didn’t eat onions and she is not bothered. What does she eat, avocado? She doesn’t eat onions.”

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman faces pungent barbs over spiralling onion prices

On Wednesday, Ms. Sitharaman told an MP that her family didn’t use onions much. Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare Ashwini Kumar Choubey added to the debate with his assertion that he was not aware of spiralling prices as he had never tasted onions.

CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury responded on Twitter: “The only thing more alarming than this govt’s inability to control the price of onions is the callousness of Modi and his ministers. The PM is maun, and his ministers cannot stop revealing their contempt for Indians by talking about their own diets.”

Congress MPs staged a protest in the Parliament complex against the “skyrocketing prices”. They displayed onions, held banners and placards, and shouted slogans demanding that the government “stop harassing the poor.” Mr. Chidambaram joined party leaders Adhir Chowdhury and Gaurav Gogoi in the protest.

Congress MPs led by P. Chidambaram protesting against the onion price hike at the Parliament House in New Delhi on Thursday.

Congress MPs led by P. Chidambaram protesting against the onion price hike at the Parliament House in New Delhi on Thursday.   | Photo Credit: Sandeep Saxena

At a press conference later, Mr. Chidambaram said his comments on the Finance Minister were not sarcastic. “They should have planned in advance, what is the point of importing now, when will they arrive? But if the Finance Minister says I don’t eat onions, that shows the mindset of this government,” he added.

In Wayanad, party leader Rahul Gandhi criticised Ms. Sitharaman’s comments, observing: “Nobody is asking you whether you eat onions. You are the FM and we are asking why the economy is struggling. Even if you ask the poorest person you will get a sensible response.”

In response to the heat on onion prices, Home Minister Amit Shah held a meeting with Union Ministers and top officials to discuss the issue, officials said.

Those who attended the meeting include Railway Minister Piyush Goyal and Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar. Cabinet Secretary Rajeev Gauba and Adviser to the Prime Minister P.K. Sinha were also present, the official said.

25 rupees a kg: BJP MP

Virendra Singh ‘Mast’, MP from Balia in Uttar Pradesh and president of BJP Kisan Morcha, offered onions at ₹25 a kg. since they were produced in Uttar Pradesh in large quantity, besides Maharashtra and Gujarat.

Superior onions were produced in Muhammadabad town in his constituency, Mr. Singh said, and told Opposition members that he was ready to provide them a truck loaded with onions.

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Printable version | Feb 21, 2020 6:34:05 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/does-she-eat-avocado-chidambaram-takes-dig-at-nirmalas-i-dont-eat-onion-remark/article30185434.ece

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