With the onion prices skyrocketing in India at over 100₹ at most places, it was a topic of heated debate in the Lok Sabha. While answering a question by Supriya Sule, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman responded by saying that onions aren’t even a part of her staple diet and can be made do without.
Her surprising remark ended up drawing laughter from her colleagues in the Lower House. But her statement has also sparked outrage on Twitter and #SayItLikeNirmalaTai is trending.
Her statement drew criticism and satire from opposition parties and netizens.
Prices of onion in many places have crossed Rs 100 per kg because of less production. Explaining further on the crisis, the minister said that the government has taken several steps to check rising prices of onion include a ban on exports, the imposition of stock limit, import and transfer of onion from surplus to deficit area.
“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 a 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.
Niramala Sitharaman Explaining the onion price rise
Attributing the current 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 a 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.
The minister also said that due to the implementation of the direct benefit transfer scheme, the government has been able to save Rs 1.41 lakh crore in the last five years by plugging loopholes.
The government plugged all loopholes through DBT and “all Dalals and middlemen have been eliminated from the system…How the DBT is making it reach the actual workers and not Dalal. No Dalal no cheating. Money reaching to the actual worker”, she said.