Kolkata shop offers onions as freebies

From triggering heated debates in Parliament to creating a buzz on Twitter, soaring onion prices have been in the limelight.

Kolkata: From triggering heated debates in parliament to creating a buzz on Twitter, soaring onion prices have been in the limelight. And with the forthcoming festive season, a local entrepreneur has tried to cash in on the onion mantra.

Wooing shoppers scouring the market for discounts and offers to stock up for the Durga pujas in October, Amar Saree stores in Deshapriya Park of south Kolkata is offering a double bonanza -- a kilo of the now-dear onions on a purchase of sarees above Rs.500.

"We saw that many stores were offering discounts and freebies for the festive season ... so we thought we can offer onions. Prices have gone up and it is an essential commodity. What better way to boost sales," Swapan Kole, proprietor of Amar Saree, told IANS,

Kole flagged-off the offer Aug 15 with a tricoloured handmade placard in Bengali taped to the shopfront.

"Initially customers just walked by ... but gradually we have begun to get response. We expect sales will get better," said Kole adding that it was not a protest of any sort.

However, in Jamshedpur of neighbouring Jharkhand, a tyre seller is giving away free onions as a mark of protest against the rising prices.

One can get five kilos of onion on the purchase of a truck tyre while a kilo is up for grabs with two car radial tyres.

To rein in soaring prices, the West Bengal government has been selling onions through mobile fair-priced shops besides undertaking additional cultivation to improve supply.

With retail prices surging beyond Rs.60 a kilo in the city, onions are being sold along with ginger in six markets in Kolkata.

Taking their grievances to the microblogging site Twitter, consumers have satirically contrasted onion rates with those of gold, petrol and the dollar.

"Today no one is worried about rising prices of petrol, thanx to #onion policy of our govt.," tweeted one.

"What rupee is falling, rupee is falling? Look at the bigger picture. Even our onion is more valuable than their dollar," wrote one.