On a day Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman was trolled online for saying her family does not consume a lot of onion and garlic, her Cabinet colleague Ashwini Choubey claimed he was unaware of the onion crisis in India since he was a vegetarian and had never eaten an onion.
The much criticised remarks were made by Sitharaman during a discussion in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday on rising onion prices. A parliamentarian had asked Sitharaman if she ate Egyptian onions, referring to the the government’s decision to import onions from Egypt to improve domestic supply. In this context, the finance minister replied: “I do not eat so much garlic, onion, so don’t worry, I come from such a family where onion does not matter.”
Though the edited clip shared online made it seem as if Sitharaman was not concerned about the rising prices, the minister did not suggest she was not concerned about the increasing prices. Sitharaman’s office also said the minister had been misquoted and shared a video of the entire exchange in Parliament.
Choubey, the minister of state for health and family welfare, also defended Sitharaman, saying the finance minister had listed all the steps taken by the government to mitigate the crisis and her statement was misconstrued.
Earlier in the day, Union Home Minister Amit Shah held a meeting on onion supply and prices with his Cabinet colleagues such as Railway Minister Piyush Goyal and Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar, and senior bureaucrats such as Cabinet Secretary Rajeev Gauba and PK Sinha, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s advisor, PTI reported.
Samajwadi Party leader Azam Khan, meanwhile, took a dig at the government, saying everyone should give up onions like Jains. “Stop eating onions, stop eating garlic, stop eating meat, everything will be saved,” ANI quoted him as saying. “A queen had once said ‘If they don’t have bread then let them eat cake’.” The quote is generally attributed to Marie Antoinette, the queen of France during the French Revolution. However, there is no historical evidence to prove it.