Sitharaman rejects criticism of being elitist over onion comment

Sitharaman said she spoke extensively on the measures the government is taking to tackle the rising onion prices.

Responding to criticism, finance minister Nirmala Sitharamana said she was called an “elitist” and criticised for her remark when she said her family “has little to do with onions” without taking into consideration the context.

Sitharaman said she spoke extensively on the measures the government is taking to tackle the rising onion prices.

Defending Sitharaman for her statement, BJP’s Ashwini Choubey too dismissed the crisis with a laugh, saying that as a vegetarian he had never tasted onions and did not know anything about the situation.

A Minister of State of Health and Family Welfare, Mr Choubey said, “I am a vegetarian. I have never tasted an onion. So, how will a person like me know about the situation (market prices) of onions?”

Responding to Sitharaman’s statement former finance minister P Chidambaram quipped “Does she eat avocado?”

Chidambaram, who arrived in Parliament on Thursday after spending 106 days in Tihar jail, when asked to comment on Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s comment that her family didn’t eat onion much.

Speaking at a press conference later, Chidambaram said that his comments on the finance minister were not “sarcastic”.

“I was not sarcastic, I was quoting her. They should have planned in advance, what is the point of importing (onion) now, when will they arrive. But if the finance minister says I don’t eat onions, that shows the mindset of this government,” he said.

On Wednesday when asked by an MP if she ate onions, Sitharaman had said, “I belong to a family which does not eat onion and garlic.”

The government had on Wednesday said that the state-run trading firm MMTC has placed another onion import order of 4,000 tonnes from Turkey and the shipments are expected to reach by mid-January.

Also Read: Govt clueless on economy, PM has left ministers to bluff: Chidambaram

This is in addition to 17,090 tonnes of onions already contracted, which includes 6,090 tonnes from Egypt and 11,000 tonnes from Turkey, it said in a statement.

Speaking to reporters in the Parliament Complex while joining other Congress MPs protesting against the steep hike in onion prices, Chidambaram said that while he would not speak on his court case, he would speak in the House and the government would not be able to “suppress” him.

“I thought the Finance Minister said in Parliament yesterday that she didn’t eat onion and she is not bothered. What does she eat? Avocado? She doesn’t eat onions,” he said.

The Supreme Court granted bail to former Chidambaram in the INX Media case on Wednesday.

“I am happy to be back. The government cannot suppress my voice in Parliament,” he said.

(With inputs from agencies.)

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