Uttar Pradesh politician Azam Khan on Thursday joined the posse of opposition leaders attacking Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman's "I-don't-eat-onions" comment in parliament, sarcastically saying that people should give up eating the vegetable amid rising prices.
"Stop eating onions. What is the compulsion to eat it? Our Jain brothers don't eat it. Stop eating onions, stop eating garlic, stop eating meat, everything will be saved. A Queen had once said 'if they don't have bread, then let them eat cake'," the Samajwadi Party leader said in reference to Marie Antoinette, the last Queen of France before the French Revolution.
On Thursday, the onion prices which have been fluctuating for over a month in Delhi, touched Rs 109 per kg in many markets in the capital. The vegetable is being sold for Rs 120-180 in Tamil Nadu's Madurai, reports said while prices have touched Rs 150 in parts of West Bengal.
The soaring rates spiced up the debate in political circles.
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Wednesday had said in Lok Sabha that the government has taken several steps to check rising prices of onion and to improve technology for better storage of the kitchen staple. In response to a question, she added, "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."
Union Minister Ashwini Kumar Choubey, seconded her on Thursday and said he is not aware of the soaring prices as he never tasted onions. But as a political row escalated, Ms Sitharaman's office tweeted 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 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
When asked about Ms Sitharaman's comment, former finance minister P Chidambaram, who arrived in parliament on Thursday after spending 106 days in Tihar jail, quipped, "Does she eat avocado?"
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.