Home Minister P Chidambaram says a controversial statement he made about the country's middle class yesterday did not "mock or chide anyone," but the BJP is not buying his argument.
The main Opposition party has gone all guns blazing at Mr Chidambaram for saying, "Can't look at it only from the view of the middle class. There are many other sections...Sometimes we are prepared to pay 15 rupees for a water bottle but won't tolerate a 1 rupee hike in rice or wheat. We are prepared to pay 20 rupees for an ice-cream cone but won't pay one rupee more for a kilo of rice or wheat." (Post Your comments)
The BJP's Ravi Shankar Prasad today said the remark was a "joke on the common man" and pointed out that the middle class paid taxes and earned revenue and that the government was insulting them here. He flayed the UPA government for being "heartless and insensitive" and accused it of "rubbing salt in the wounds of the common man."
This morning, Mr Chidambaram had hit out at a newspaper for saying that he had mocked the middle class for complaining about rising prices. The newspaper had quoted him as saying that, "When the urban middle class can buy mineral water for Rs. 15 and ice-cream for Rs. 20, why do they make so much noise about price rise?" and Mr Chidambaram said that was a "deliberate distortion" of his comments. (Read Full statement)
Mr Prasad said, "He is blaming the media...the whole country saw and heard what he said." He attacked Mr Chidambaram personally saying, "a man part of 2G corruption, someone whose family has been under suspicion for the Aircel deal, now is joking with the common man."
It's not just the BJP that has taken umbrage. Ally for all practical purposes, the Samajwadi Party, finds reason to differ this time. SP leader Shahid Siddiqui warned that "if a senior leader like Chidambaram says this, the country might see a huge revolution...you might see Naxalites in cities...Only God can save us if Mr Chidambaram speaks this way."
Mr Chidambaram's remark began trending on Twitter with topic Rs. 15 soon after he made it.
The minister's statement today quotes what he said yesterday and then says, "The Home Minister made a matter-of-fact statement. He did not 'mock' or 'chide' any one."