The saffron diet: rice or roti with salt garnished with tears!     

Since no one in the BJP seems to give a damn about what ‘we the people’ enjoy eating, we soon may have no choice left but to consume what they recommend

Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman
Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman

Rupa Gulab

It is now clear that Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman knows nothing about economics. She recently confessed in Parliament that many people have told her she’s the worst finance minister in the history of India. I’m guessing that once she got home, she flung herself face down on her bed and sobbed heartbreakingly into her pillow because not a single MP lied (for a change) and disagreed with her on the floor of the house. Tut.

She knows precious little about defence either. When she handled that prestigious portfolio, all she did was defend the Rafale scam in a snarly voice. There was one amazing photo op though that made me gasp with horror: Sitharaman grinning and waving like the friendly girl-next-door at Chinese soldiers who had slunk into our territory — you know the sort you read grim newspaper reports on with headlines like “Fresh Chinese incursions into Indian territory”. Hello, shouldn’t she have snarled at them too?

Sitharaman (or Nimmi Tai as she’s fondly referred to on social media) probably can’t sew as well, which is why she asked her aged aunty to make that famous bahi khaata as a desi folder for the Union Budget. That, in all honesty, was the high point of the Budget.

And now she has revealed that she doesn’t know her onions either. During a debate on spiralling onion prices in the Lok Sabha, Sitharaman arrogantly said, “I don’t eat a lot of onions and garlic, so don’t worry. I come from a family that doesn’t have much to do with onions.” Erm, no one is worried about her dietary preferences, we’re worried about ourselves! As I type this, onions cost ₹200 a kg in Bengaluru. A leading national daily reported that onion thieves are targeting trucks, farms and shops, and so far, one thief has been caught in Puducherry.

A friend tried eating chhole bhature and pau bhaji without raw onions and complained bitterly that it just didn’t have the same magic. Once pickled onions and raw onion rings (standard freebies) completely disappear from tables at posh restaurants and grungy dhabas, expect a national riot.

Another BJP MP, Union minister Ashwini Choubey, supportively jumped in on the heels of Sitharaman’s statement (perhaps he felt guilty that he hadn’t stood by her when she said she was regarded as a lousy finance minister). He virtuously said, “I am a vegetarian. I have never tasted an onion. So how will a person like me know about the situation (market prices) of onions?”

You could argue that Sitharaman and Choubey were just behaving like kaddus, but I never take any statement made by the BJP lightly — they always have a sinister motive. These back-to-back disdainful remarks on onions (garlic too, lest we forget) throw up two frightening questions: 1. Can we assume that onions and other root veggies are the new beef? 2. Is Amit Shah so powerful in the BJP that Hindutva is turning into Jainutva with the blessings of the RSS?

Since no one in the BJP seems to give a damn about what ‘we the people’ enjoy eating, we soon may have no choice left but to consume what they recommend. I hope Sitharaman’s seamstress aunty publishes a book of family recipes without root vegetables because many of us really have no clue how to even do a dal tarka without at least one of them. Please note that I didn’t ask Sitharaman to do the book because I assume that like most things, she knows nothing about cooking either. I don’t want to embarrass her further by bringing that up too, I’m a nice person.

Alternatively, we can hope that Snoopendra Modi gets someone to ghost-write a book called ‘Mushroom Warriors’ that gives us his favourite recipes for the Himalayan mushrooms (Morchella esculenta) he consumes daily. Wait, scratch that: according to, these mushrooms cost ₹30,000 per kg! Now where does he get all that money from, eh?

What’s equally scary is that going by the shabby way the BJP treats our farmers, there soon may be no vegetables left to eat. We won’t even be able to make our livelihood selling pakodas like Snoopendra Modi urged us to! We will probably be reduced to consuming those frugal midday meals for kids served in Ajay Singh Bisht’s Uttar Pradesh: rice/roti with salt, and garnished with tears.

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