Amid criticism from the Opposition for her “little to do with Onions” remark, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman Thursday reminded Parliament of the remarks made by Congress leader P Chidambaram in 2012 when he purportedly dismissed middle-class concerns over price rise.
“What was the statement given by one of the finance ministers when in 2012 price rise was high? ‘When urban middle class can buy a bottle of water for Rs 15, why do they make so much noise about price rise’,” she said.
She also hit back at the Opposition saying no one can accuse the government of being elitist as it provided free health care and houses for the poor.
“Criticism of the economy is welcome… this government is continuously responding (to developing situation) and steps are being taken. You may like it or you may not like it. You may think it is adequate or inadequate, I am quite willing to buy that. But not an allegation that this government is elitist. Was (free LPG connection scheme) Ujjaala for elitist? Jan Dhan Yojna is it for elitist? PM Awas Yojana is it for elitist? So Ayushman Bharat is that for elitist?” she asked.
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Earlier today, Congress likened Sitharaman to “Marie Antoinette” for saying her about her family has “little to do with onions”. 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”.
On Wednesday, amid a raging debate in Lok Sabha over the surge in onion prices, Sitharaman reply to NCP leader Supriya Sule was interrupted by another MP who 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).”
Following the FM’s remark in the Lok Sabha, protests began outside the Parliament against “rising inflation and soaring prices (of onions) and the arrogant, insensitive comments by the Finance Minister.”
(with ANI inputs)