Sitharaman Says ‘Family Doesn’t Eat Onions’, Politicians Lash Out

Sitharaman was replying to a question posed by NCP MP Supriya Sule regarding the surge in onion prices.

Updated
India
3 min read

"Main itna lehsun, pyaaz nahi khati hoon ji. Main aise pariwar se aati hoon jaha onion, pyaaz se matlab nahi rakhte".

Amid the countrywide uproar over the surging prices of onion, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said in the Lok Sabha that she doesn’t consume much onion and garlic as it is not a part of her family’s diet.

On Thursday, 5 December, she said that since her remarks, she has been called an “elitist”, condemning which she cited her government's efforts to control onion prices, and said that it is part of schemes such as free cooking gas to poor women and financial inclusion programme of Jan Dhan Yojana.

What Did Sitharaman Say?

Sitharaman, on Wednesday, was replying to a question posed by NCP MP Supriya Sule regarding onion price. As the finance minister rose to speak, another MP asked her if she eats onion, to which Sitharaman spoke about her food preferences.

Sitharaman also listed out the measures undertaken by the government to tackle the price of onions.

"I must say, from 2014, I have also been part of some of the group of ministers, which monitored the ups and downs in onion markets. Sometimes when there was surplus of crop we have also facilitated by giving support to those people who want to export it. I have overnight past orders for helping with 5-7 percent assistance for exporting," she said.

The finance minister can be heard detailing about the various measures between the 46:10 and 49:35 mark in the following clip:

Attributing shortage to low production, the minister said there are 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 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," she said.

‘Does Sitharaman Eat Avacado?’: Chidambaram

A day after being released from Tihar Jail, former Finance Minister P Chidambaram arrived in Parliament on Thursday.

“Does she eat avocado?” quipped Chidambaram.

Speaking at a press conference later, Chidambaram said, “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.”

‘Stop Eating Onion,’ Says Azam Khan

Meanwhile, Azam Khan, a Samajwadi Party leader said, “Stop eating onions, why is there a compulsion to eat it? Our Jain brothers don't eat. Stop eating onions, garlic, and meat, everything will be saved.”

Khan continued, “A Queen had once said 'If they don't have bread, then let them eat cake.'”

Union Minister Ashwini Choubey on Thursday said, “I am a vegetarian. I have never tasted an onion. So, how will a person like me know about the situation (market prices) of onions.”

‘People Want to Know About Economy, Not What She Eats’: Rahul Gandhi

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi also took a jibe at Sitaraman over the issue of onion prices, saying nobody asked her what she eats, but people want to know why the economy is struggling.

Speaking at a leadership meet of the Congress in Wayanad, Gandhi said, “Nobody is asking you whether you eat onions. You are the Finance Minister and we are asking why the economy is struggling. Even if you ask the poorest person you will get a sensible response.”

(With inputs from ANI, PTI)

(Correction: The video in this copy has been updated to reflect that Sitharaman’s comment, wherein she says that she does not 'eat onions much', was in response to a question asked by an MP about whether she consumed Egyptian onions, and not in response to Supriya Sule’s questions on production and price of onions.)

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