“Stop eating onions, what is the compulsion to eat them? Our Jain brothers do not eat them. Stop eating onions, stop eating garlic, stop eating meat, everything will be saved," said Mohd. Azam Khan, a lawmaker from the opposition regional Samajwadi Party from northern Uttar Pradesh, in a sarcastic jab at Indian Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, who had made light of the situation.
“Don’t eat onions, it gives you bad breath. A queen once said ‘if the public does not have bread to eat then let them eat cake',” he added.
Earlier this week, during a discussion on the issue of rising onion prices in Parliament, Sitharaman said that she simply did not eat onion or garlic - and her statement evoked strong sentiments both from lawmakers and social media users, who slammed her as comments as "insensitive" and "absurd".
Former Finance Minister P. Chidambaram, who was released from jail on Wednesday after his arrest in a corruption and money laundering case, joined the parliament in the ongoing Winter Session. He also took a swipe at Sitharaman’s remark that she “don’t eat onion” remark, asking “Does she eat avocado?”
Onion prices across the country varied from Rs. 200 ($2.81) to Rs. 90 ($1.26) per kilogram; at one food retailer with outlets throughout Greater Delhi, Mother Dairy, the rate was Rs. 95.00 ($1.33) per kilogram on Friday. There are two varieties of onions in India – bigger ones and smaller ones called shallots; the latter are mostly cultivated and consumed in the southern part of the country. Shallot in Chennai was selling for Rs. 229.00 ($3.21)/kg on Friday.
As the prices surged, India’s federal cabinet gave approval last month for the import of 120,000 tons of onions to improve availability in the domestic markets.