New Delhi: As the onion debate across the country is leaving a bitter taste in our mouth, here’s a fiery comeback from finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman who on Thursday quoted what P Chidambaram, when he was the Union home minister in 2012, had said over the price rise of essential commodities. “When the urban middle class can buy a bottle of mineral water for Rs 15 & ice-cream for Rs 20, why do they make so much noise about price-rise? And these are people accusing me of being elitist, the government elitist?” Nirmala Sitharaman said, quoting Chidambaram’s reaction to the price rise in 2012.

A day before, Nirmala Sitharaman’s comment “I don’t eat onions” created an uproar and the finance minister drew flak for being “elitist” and “insensitive”. Former finance minister P Chidambaram in his first press meet after getting bail in the INX scam case asked. “Does she eat avocadoes?”

Karti Chidambaram, too, took a dig and called her “our own Marie Antoinette”.


When Marie Antoinette, the wife of France’s King Louis XVI, was told that her French subjects had no bread, she said, “Let them eat cake”.

“I spent 20 minutes talking about what kind of steps this government has taken for better management of onion distribution, for the use of public money to have greater storage of onions and also making sure that urgent purchases are happening from Rajasthan which truckloads are going to Jharkhand and Bihar — I have given all that data…but (the criticism is) she is elitist, she talks about not eating onions,” Sitharaman said.

In 2012, when Chidambaram made the comment, it drew flak. He had said that there shouldn’t be any complaint for price rise when things are on the side of poor farmers. “The rise has directly benefited farmers,” Chidambaram had said.