New Delhi: Facing flak for his comments ‘mocking’ the middle class on the issue of price rise, Home Minister P Chidambaram issued a clarification on Wednesday in which he claimed that his comments were distorted.
A formal clarification was issued on Chidambaram’s behalf by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on Wednesday. The statement said Chidambaram was "shocked" and "disgusted" at the apparent distortion of his remarks on price rise by the media.
"Home Minister P Chidambaram is shocked and disgusted by the deliberate distortion of the relevant question and answer at the media briefing. The Home Minister made a matter-of-fact statement. He did not 'mock' or 'chide' anyone,” the statement said.
“If the interview is viewed, it will be seen that he spoke in a matter-of-fact manner. The Home Minister used the word 'we'. He did not use the words 'why do they make so much noise about price rise'. He did not say 'There needn’t be any complaint for price rise when things are on the side of poor farmers’,” it added.
During a press meet in Bangalore, Chidambaram had said the Indian middle class spends money on mineral water and ice cream without fuss, but protests against a small increase in the price of rice and wheat.
"We are prepared to pay Rs 15 for a bottle of water, but we can't bear to pay Re 1 more for 1 kg of rice or wheat. We are prepared to pay Rs 20 for an ice cream cone, but we can't pay Re 1 more for one kilo of wheat or rice," he had said.
The Opposition had latched on to his remarks. BJP spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain said, “Chidambaram, who sits in an air-conditioned room, travels by air and has a foreigner's point of view, does not sympathise with the common man. There are over 600 million people below the poverty line today who are unable to scrape (up) one square meal."
Samajwadi Party’s Shahid Siddiqui feared that Chidambaram’s comment may trigger a revolution in the country.
A news agency quoted Siddiqui as saying: "Before the French Revolution, the Queen of France when she was told that people are fighting and protesting because they don't have bread, she said, if they don't have the bread, why don't they eat cake. So, it is the same kind of statement. And, it brought about the biggest revolution in modern history, the French Revolution. And, if such a senior leader speaks like that, then I am afraid this county may see a huge revolution."
"We are talking about Naxalites in the jungles of Chhattisgarh, you may see those Naxalites in the cities. People may become violent. If a person like Chidambaram speaks like that then what I can say is 'Allah Hi Maalik Hai Is Desh Ka',” he said.
First Published: Wednesday, July 11, 2012, 12:57