New Delhi, July 11 (IBNS): Union Home Minister P Chidambaram on Wednesday said he was “shocked and disgusted” by the “deliberate distortion” of a comment made by him that implied he had taken a dig at the country’s middle class for protesting rising prices.
Addressing a press conference in Bangalore on Tuesday Chidambaram was quoted as saying that people were prepared to pay Rs 15 for a bottle of water and Rs 20 for a cone ice-cream, but were all up in arms against a one rupee rise in wheat and rice price.
Issuing a statement on Wednesday, Chidambaram said that the report that appeared in a leading English daily, misconstrued his response to a question asked to him following the media briefing in Bangalore.
“Answering a question on the burden on the common man, the Home Minister referred to the different segments of the population and the schemes that benefit the different segments,” a statement issued by the Home Ministry said.
Providing a transcript of his reply, the statement quoted Chidambaram as saying, "You mentioned high food prices. Yes food inflation is high. But higher procurement prices will reflect in slightly higher food prices. But higher procurement prices benefits millions of farmers.”
“If you increase the price of sugarcane, sugar cannot be cheaper than before. If you increase the price of procured wheat or procured paddy, rice and wheat for the consumer cannot be less.
“Sometimes, and I have written about this once, we are prepared to pay fifteen rupees for a bottle of water but we will not bear one rupee increase in the price of a kilo of wheat or a kilo of rice.
“We are prepared to pay rupees twenty for an ice cream cone but won't pay one rupee more for a kilo of wheat or rice,” the statement quoted the former finance minister as saying.
It read further: “The Home Minister made a matter-of-fact statement. He did not 'mock' or 'chide' any one. 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',” the statement said.
“The report is therefore a complete distortion of his statements,” it added.