Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman's "I-don't-eat-onions" comment in parliament was attacked by opposition parties today with the Congress calling it her "Marie Antoinette moment" and wondering whether she preferred avocado. Nirmala Sitharaman had made the remarks when opposition MPs had interrupted her statement on the government's measures to combat soaring onion prices.
On Wednesday, when the Finance Minister was speaking in the Lok Sabha about the decision to import onions from Egypt and other countries, NCP MP Supriya Sule had questioned the decision and asked why production had gone down.
An MP had asked Ms Sitharaman: "Do you eat Egyptian onions?"
The Finance Minister had replied: "I don't eat a lot of onions and garlic, so don't worry. I come from a family that doesn't have much to do with onions."
Her office tweeted today that the comment had been taken out of context. "Here is the full video of Smt @nsitharaman explaining in detail the steps taken by the government to control onion prices and provide relief to the common man. A part of this video clip is being quoted out of context and is misleading," the tweet read.
Here is the full video of Smt @nsitharaman explaining in detail the steps taken by the govt. to control onion prices and provide relief to the common man. A part of this video clip is being quoted out of context and is misleading. pic.twitter.com/56MLd1gKpU— NSitharamanOffice (@nsitharamanoffc) December 5, 2019
Former finance minister P Chidambaram, who attended parliament today after his release on bail after over three months in jail, was among those who mocked the statement. He said the comment reflected the mindset of the government.
"The Finance Minister said yesterday that she doesn't eat onions, so what does she eat? Does she eat avocado," Mr Chidambaram, a Rajya Sabha member, derided. His son Karti Chidambaram, a Lok Sabha MP, tweeted "our own Marie Antoinette".
Mr Chidambaram later elaborated at his press conference: "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."
The Congress put out a tweet lampooning the Finance Minister's comment.
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP)'s Raghav Chaddha tweeted: "Mocking tears of millions for whom onions are a staple and who are struggling to make ends meet as onion prices skyrocket, Our FM condescendingly remarks that she doesn't eat onion. Indian Marie Antoinette? BJP adds salt to wounds. We can't add salt to onions as we can't afford them."
Onions are being sold for Rs 120-180 in Tamil Nadu's Madurai, reports said today. Prices have touched Rs 150 in parts of West Bengal.