The young men who protested in Bengaluru on Saturday by selling pakodas (fritters) outside the Bharatiya Janata Party’s office want “regular jobs”, former Finance Minister P Chidambaram said on Sunday. Taking his Twitter exchange with the BJP into the second day on Monday, the Congress leader asked the party how many regular jobs it had created in the last three years.
In an interview with Zee News on January 20, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had suggested that those who sell pakodas outside offices, and earn Rs 200 a day, count as employed. The statement angered several viewers, as experts and the Opposition continue to attack the Centre on the employment scenario in the country.
On Saturday, a group of young men set up a fritters’ stall outside the BJP’s office in Bengaluru to protest the remark.
The next day, Chidambaram tweeted: “Even selling pakodas is a ‘job’, said PM. By that logic, even begging is a job. Let’s count poor or disabled persons who are forced to beg for a living as ‘employed’ people.” He told people to “be prepared for an assault on our common sense by wild claims of job creation by the government”.
The BJP soon responded by saying the Congress was insulting the “poor and aspirational Indians”. “Comparing livelihood means of millions of hard-working Indians from humble background to begging betrays Congress party’s perpetual disdain for the poor,” the BJP tweeted. The BJP also posted a video showing “poor and aspirational Indians” approving of Modi’s policies on camera.
In response, Chidambaram called the BJP “the master of distortion and deception”. “Selling pakodas is honourable self-employment for the poor but that cannot be counted as a job,” he wrote late Sunday.
Another tweet on Monday morning said: “A young man who sells pakodas is honourably self-employed, but poor and aspirational. Ask him and he will tell you that he aspires for a regular and secure job. I empathise with him.”
The BJP has not yet responded to the latest tweets.