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‘I don’t eat onions’ remark: Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman rejects ‘elitist’ tag, cites Ujjwala, Jan Dhan

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman speaks in the Rajya Sabha on December 5, 2019. Photo: RSTV/PTI

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman speaks in the Rajya Sabha on December 5, 2019. Photo: RSTV/PTI  

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Finance Minister says her comments about rising onion prices were distorted and used to attack her.

Hitting back at criticism for her statement in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday that she does not eat onions, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Thursday questioned the tag of being “elitist”, citing schemes such as the Ujjwala Yojana, Jan Dhan, Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana and Ayushman Bharat.

Ms. Sitharaman was speaking in the Rajya Sabha on the Taxation Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2019, when she said people were welcome to criticise the government, but her comments in the Lok Sabha had been culled to attack her.

“Oh, she said, ‘she does not eat onions’. If only people understand what I said in the debate. In answer to a particular question about 'Do you eat it?', I instinctively said, 'I don't eat or my family does not give so much importance to onion.' That becomes a major criticism of this government. This is when I have spent more than 20 minutes talking about what kind of steps this Government has taken for better management of onion distribution,” she said, adding that she was accused of being an elitist.

 

Reacting to Congress MPs saying that no one had made such an allegation in the Upper House, she said: “It is a criticism on the economy and I have every business to answer because this government is continuously responding to steps that are being taken...But when you throw an allegation that this government is elitist, I have to say this. Ujjwala Yojana. Is it for elitist? Jan Dhan Yojana. Is it for elitist? Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana. Is it for elitist? Ayushman Bharat. Is it for elitist? Are we elitist? Is it so?”.

She added that those accusing her of being elitist had in 2012 asked why the middle class was complaining of price rise when it can buy a mineral water bottle for ₹15 and an ice cream for ₹20.

‘I don’t eat onions’ remark: Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman rejects ‘elitist’ tag, cites Ujjwala, Jan Dhan

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Printable version | Jan 25, 2020 12:37:28 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/i-dont-eat-onions-nirmala-sitharaman-rejects-elitist-tag/article30196515.ece

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