Did Nirmala Sitharaman Say, "I Don't Eat Onions, So Doesn't Matter To Me"?

The comment received a lot of criticism with many calling it insensitive, due to rising onion prices impacting consumers

A video clip of Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has gone viral on social media, where she can be seen curtly replying that she doesn't eat much onions and comes from a family where onions and garlic don't matter. Sitharaman made this comment during an exchange with another parliamentarian in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday.

Several Twitter users called her statement insensitive as it comes in the backdrop of rising onion prices in the country and the distress it has caused to the farmers and consumers.

In the viral clip which is 20 seconds long, one can hear Sitharaman say, "I do not eat so much garlic, onion, so don't worry, I come from such a family where onion does not matter. (In Hindi - मैं इतना लस्सन, प्याज नहीं खाती हूँ जी, So don't worry, मैं ऐसे परिवार से आती हूँ जहाँ अनियन, प्याज का मतलब नहीं रखते हैं |).

One can further hear a parliamentarian shout, "Eating too much onion will cause cancer", which the Finance Minster ignores and takes Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Supriya Sule's name after which the clip ends.

Gaurav Pandhi, a political analyst criticising the government tweeted, "The Onion prices across the country is skyrocketing, basic meals of the poor & the middle class is affected and Finance Minister's response: "I don't eat onions, so it doesn't matter to me", Anti-people and insensitive Govt!"".

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Milind Khandekar, the digital editor of BBC India verbatim quoting the minister tweeted, "Finance Minister on Onion "I do not eat so much, onion, so don't worry I come from a family where onion, garlic does not matter."

News X reported the story with a headline, "Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman says she doesn't eat onions, so no worries about onion prices".

The report further read, "Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in Parliament said that she does not eat onions and that is why is not bothered by the onion prices."

In context: What FM Sitharaman said in parliament

The viral comment came in when finance minister Sitharaman was going to answer a question raised by Supriya Sule on the decline in onion production in the country. Before she could answer, a parliamentarian shouted asking her if she ate Egyptian onions in reference to the central government approving the import of onions from Egypt to improve the domestic supply and control prices.

Giving a rebuttal to that, the finance minister made the remark that she does't eat much onions and comes from a family where onions don't matter. While Siharaman's off the cuff statement could sound insensitive in isolation, nowhere in the reply could she be found saying that 'she is not personally worried about rising prices as she is not a consumer', as interpreted outside parliament.

After making the remark, she continued her response to Supriya Sule, stating the steps taken by the government including ban on exports, imposition of stock limit, import and transfer of onion from surplus to deficit area and attributing the shortage to low production.

One can listen to it from the timestamp - 7.59.24

Meanwhile, Sitharaman has responded through a tweet, claiming that her statement is being quoted out of context. The Finance minister uploaded a 4.52 minute clip of her Lok Sabha address on her official Twitter account.


Supriya Sule: I appreciate everything that you are saying, but a lot has been said about the Mudra loans, so my question to you, very humbly put is, that according to the data that is accessible to us, for about 53%, Mudra was started by you, 53% of the loans are in NPA which is 4 lakh crore, (interruption).. mahila saksham hai, she doesn't need to be defended, and on more small question since you talked about onion, I just have a small query, I appreciate that you managed getting onions from Egypt, I come from Maharashtra which is the largest pool collector of onions, A) why have the production gone down?, B) Bharti Pawar, she is sitting right here, she represents Nasik, so she will agree with me, this is not a political I'm making at all, but the onion prices, when they were rock bottom, is the time of duration you gave, is that the reason that they did not get the right (inaudible) as the MSP was not good. Hence the production has gone down. I take great pride in being an Indian, and proud to be an Indian which feeds every Indian's mouth, so why has the production gone down. I am not happy eating Egyptian onions, why should India do it, and we export rice, we export milk, so many products, we are the second largest rice producer in the world, and wheat, why are we doing this, Isint it a regressive step? if you could kindly clarify, about the Mudra loan which is NPA and the onions, because the onion grower is the small farmer, the onion farmer is not the 20 and 30 acre one, he's the small farmer with less water, so he really needs to be protected is my request.

Nirmala Sitharaman: I agree, infact

Parliamentarian screaming: आप इगिप्टीएन अनियन खाते हैं? (Do you eat Egyptian onions?)

Nirmala Sitharaman: मैं इतना लस्सन, प्याज नहीं खाती हूँ जी (I do not eat so much garlic, onion) So don't worry मैं ऐसे परिवार से आती हूँ जहाँ अनियन, प्याज का मतलब नहीं रखते हैं | (I come from such family where onion does not matter)

Parliamentarian screaming: बहुत ज्यादा प्याज खाने से कैंसर होगा (Eating too much onion will cause cancer)

Nirmala Sitharaman: No, Honorable member Supriya Ji, I must say from 2014 I have also been part of some of the group of ministers which monitors the ups and downs in onion market. Sometimes when there is a surplus of the crop, we have also facilitated by giving support to those people who want to export it. I have overnight passed orders for helping with 5 to 7 percent of assistance for exporting it. There are severe structural problems related it onion....

Updated On: 2019-12-05T20:37:13+05:30
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