In response to a question posed by NCP MP Supriya Sule in Lok Sabha, Sitharaman said, "I don't eat much of onion and garlic. I come from such a family which doesn't have much to do with onion."
The response has incurred the wrath of netizens, many of whom felt that whether Sitharaman and her family ate onions or not was irrelevant to the discussion on skyrocketing prices. Others construed the statement as an acknowledgement of how little Sitharaman cared about rising onion prices - a problem that affects that entire country's population - because she didn't eat it.
Twitter was instantly flooded with sarcastic jokes at the cost of the Fin Min with the hashtag '#SayItLikeNirmalaTai' trending.
Divorce rate is high in India since people keep getting married. #SayItLikeNirmalaTai— Rofl Republic 🍋🌶 (@i_theindian) December 4, 2019
"I don't know economics, so I don't care about Economy" #SayItLikeNirmalaTai— Gaurav Pandhi (@GauravPandhi) December 5, 2019
Salman Khan doesn't care about bad roads because he drives on footpaths.#SayItLikeNirmalaTai— Tabish Qamar (@Tabishqmr) December 4, 2019
Nirmala Sitharaman doesn't care about the economy because she doesn't travel economy class.#SayItLikeNirmalaTai— PuNsTeR™ (@Pun_Starr) December 4, 2019
#SayItLikeNirmalaTai— baadal vaigyanik Ravi Kundurthi (@RaviKundurthi) December 4, 2019
Bhakat: Why is unemployment so high?
NS: No one in my family is unemployed. So, no issue there.
People don't care about Toilet paper prices because they read Chetan Bhagat's books. 😂#SayItLikeNirmalaTai— IRONY MAN (@karanku100) December 5, 2019
Meanwhile, others also pointed out that the onion "admission" was a mark of caste pride. Onions and garlic are traditionally not used for cooking in Brahmin households that are often strictly vegetarian. Critics felt that the statement was somewhat insensitive apropos to the discussion of rising prices that affect a majority of Indians who consume or produce onions.
Also, notice the subtle caste pride in those words— Liberal Mantri (@LiberalMantri) December 4, 2019
The Finance minister belongs to a Tamil Iyengar Brahmin family. This comment not only shows what an ignorant, power drunk leader she is but also furthers the propaganda ritual purity & Brahminism. https://t.co/A9PMrf3geX— Vidya (@VidyaKrishnan) December 5, 2019
Also, that subtle 'caste pride' in claiming that she & her pariwar doesn't consume onions! 😡😡😤 https://t.co/UHYN9sBLLZ— Agnipath (@paan_addict) December 4, 2019
One user likened Sitharaman's tone-deaf comment to a famous one attributed to Mary Antoinnette at the height of the French Revolution - (If they don't have bread), "let them eat cake". (In response to a question about what can be done to help starving peasants who don't have bread).
Marie Antoinette - 'Let them eat cake'— Hasiba 🌈 (@HasibaAmin) December 5, 2019
Nirmala Sitaraman - 'Don't worry about high onion prices, I don't eat onion anyway'#SayItLikeNirmalaTai
Sitharaman, however, has claimed that her statement is being quoted out of context. In repsonse to the trolling, the Finance minister uploaded the full video of her Lok Sabha address on her Twitter account. Her supporters argued that Sitharaman was responding a question about whether she ate onions and that the response was not outrageous when seen in the right context.
Here is the full video of Smt @nsitharaman explaining in detail the steps taken by the govt. to control onion prices and provide relief to the common man. A part of this video clip is being quoted out of context and is misleading. pic.twitter.com/56MLd1gKpU— NSitharamanOffice (@nsitharamanoffc) December 5, 2019
Someone asked if she eats onions, she said I don’t. What else should she have said?— Gappistan Radio (@GappistanRadio) December 5, 2019
Maybe opposition MPs should not disturb the house by asking silly questions... https://t.co/PWHikt8OgW