Chidambaram expresses shock over 'distortion' of his remarks

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P Chidambaram
New Delhi, Jul 11: Home Minister P Chidambaram on Wednesday expressed shock and disgust over "deliberate distortion" of his statement in the media about middle class attitude towards price rise, saying he did not "mock or chide" anyone.

"He (Chidambaram) is shocked and disgusted by the deliberate distortion of the relevant question and answer at the media briefing in Bangalore on Jul 10," a Home Ministry statement said.

"The Home Minister made a matter-of-fact statement and he did not mock or chide anyone. If the interview is viewed, it will be seen that he spoke in a matter-of-fact manner," it said.

The statement referred to newspaper reports on his press conference yesterday in which he was quoted as saying that people were prepared to pay Rs 20 for a cone ice cream but protest a rupee hike in wheat and rice prices.

The statement said Chidambaram used the word "we". He did not use the words "why do they make so much noise about price rise."

"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," he was quoted as saying in today's statement.

He did not say, "There needn't be any complaint for price rise when things are on the side of poor farmers. The report is, therefore, a complete distortion of his statements," it said.

The Home Minister answered a question on the burden on the common man and referred to the different segments of the population and the schemes that benefit the different segments, it said.

He referred to higher minimum support price (as benefiting the farmers); MGNREGA (as benefiting the rural poor); mid-day meal scheme (as benefiting millions of children); and he referred to PMGSY (as benefiting thousands of villages).

The Home Minister referred to the price of crude oil and how the government was constrained to first raise petrol prices and then how it was reduced twice to benefit the middle class.

Quoting exact text of the answer, the statement said Chidambaram then said, "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 benefit 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, 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."

PTI

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