Chandigarh, March 7: It is not every day that we get to see elected representatives of a state selling pakodas (fritters) on the streets. On Tuesday, opposition Congress legislators from Haryana decided to put up a pakoda-selling stall outside the state Assembly building in Chandigarh. The Congress MLAs were protesting against the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for failing to create jobs for the unemployed across the country.
The Congress legislators sold pakodas to take a dig at Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who in an interview in January stated that selling fritters is also a job. In the interview, Modi stated, "If a person selling pakodas earns Rs 200 at the end of the day, will it be considered employment or not?" The statement angered several people, as experts and the Opposition continue to attack the Centre over the employment scenario in the country.
In the recent past, several pakoda-selling protests were hosted by youngsters in the country to oppose the ruling BJP. The Haryana Congress MLAs' protest backfired as they were taken aback by a surprise visitor.
Chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar made it a point to stop his car before entering the Assembly building to visit the stall. He not only checked what the opposition legislators were up to but also bought pakodas from them. After tasting the fritters, Khattar like a good patron paid the Congress legislators.
Khattar said he bought pakodas to give employment to the Congress leaders as most of them are jobless post-Assembly election debacle in 2014. In the 90-member Assembly, the Congress won just 15 seats and the BJP form the government in 2014 with 47 seats.
"If anyone is getting employment by selling pakodas, it's a good thing. They had become unemployed, but now they have got the pakoda-selling job ... a good thing," Khattar said in a lighter vein. It is not just Khattar who took a swipe at the Congress. Health minister Anil Vij joked that if the Congress leaders were going to do this for longer, his department would get the quality of pakodas examined.
Along with selling pakodas, the Congress leaders protested by shouting slogans against the Khattar government. They were also holding placards which had pictures of BJP leaders and beside them, rates of pakodas were displayed. A Congress legislator alleged that she was manhandled by police personnel while selling pakodas to passers-by.
"Both the Centre and Haryana governments had promised to create a large number of jobs for the unemployed. But now they are assuring pakoda jobs to millions of people looking for work. For BJP leaders, even people earning Rs 200 a day by selling pakodas can be considered employed, which is a cruel joke," said Congress MLA Karan Singh Dalal.
The Haryana BJP legislators have called the "pakoda-selling gimmick" of the Congress as elitist and an insult to the poor. "First they made joke of tea seller, now they are doing the same thing with the poor people selling pakodas for a living. They have elitist mentality and cannot tolerate chaiwalas and pakodawalas," said state agriculture minister OP Dhankar.