From calling her “Marie Antoinette” to “whether she preferred avocado”, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman came under heavy criticism from the Congress on Thursday a day after she said her family “has little to do with onions”.
Former Union Finance Minister P Chidambaram, who walked out of jail Wednesday after 106 days of incarceration in the INX Media case, asked if Sitharaman preferred to eat avocado instead. “Finance Minister said yesterday that she doesn’t eat onions, so what does she eat? Does she eat avocado?” ANI quoted Chidambaram as saying at a press conference.
Chidambaram’s son Karti, a Lok Sabha MP, tweeted, “Our own Marie Antoinette”. Marie Antoinette, the wife of France’s King Louis XVI, is infamous for her callous remark when she was told that her French subjects had no bread. To this, she said, “Let them eat cake”.
In the Lower House on Wednesday, Sitharaman was responding to NCP leader Supriya Sule’s questions on the low production and soaring price of onions when an MP interrupted and asked the finance minister “Aap pyaaz khaate hain (Do you eat onions)?”.
To this, the minister replied, “Main itna lehsun, pyaaz nahi khati hoon ji. Main aise pariwar se aati hoon jaha onion, pyaaz se matlab nahi rakhte (I do not eat onions and garlic much. I come from a family where we have little to do with onions).”
Congress was quick to pounce upon Sitharaman’s remarks and took a dig at the BJP leader. The party also held protests outside the Parliament against “rising inflation and soaring prices (of onions) and the arrogant, insensitive comments by the Finance Minister.”
Leaders of the Congress Party protest outside Parliament against rising inflation & soaring prices & the arrogant, insensitive comments by the FM @nsitharaman#SayItLikeNirmalaTai pic.twitter.com/49jysPLPbM
— Congress (@INCIndia) December 5, 2019
Sitharaman’s office later issued a clarification, saying her comment was misconstrued and 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
Prices of onion in many places have crossed Rs 100 per kg because of less production. Attributing shortage to low production, the minister said there were severe structural problems related to onions.
“One is we don’t have scientifically advanced methods of storing…So that is one of the things, so we need to have a greater scientific storage facility for onions we have started working on it…then also to give better storage capacities within that region particularly around Lasalgaon,” Sitharaman said.