'Pakoda' jibe: Chidambaram tells BJP 'don't distort, deflect debate on jobs'

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NEW DELHI: Congress leader P Chidamabaram today accused the BJP of “distorting” and “deflecting” the debate on jobs by characterising his ‘pakoda’ comment as an “insult to the poor”.

Chidambaram, a former Union finance minister, yesterday criticised the government for failing to create jobs and PM Narendra Modi for equating selling ‘pakodas’ to being employed. A stung BJP responded by saying he was insulting “poor and aspirational Indians”.

The Congress leader responded to the BJP’s accusations in tweets today, saying that a young man who sells ‘pakodas’ does indeed have aspirations – he “aspires for a regular and secure job” – and that he empathises with the young man.

“A young man who sells pakodas is honourably self-employed, but poor and aspirational. Ask him and he will tell you that he aspires for a regular and secure job. I empathise with him,” tweeted Chidambaram. He was expanding on a comment he made yesterday: “In the debate on jobs, it is important to keep the distinction between ‘job’ and ‘self employment’. A ‘job’ is certain, regular and reasonably secure. We want to know how many such jobs have been created.”

The Congres leader then said the BJP is distorting his comments as it doesn’t want to debate the grave issue of rising joblessness.

“BJP should not distort and deflect the debate on jobs. BJP should tell us how many regular jobs were created in the last three years,” Chidambaram tweeted further. Yesterday, he said the “BJP is the master of distortion and deception. Selling pakodas is honourable self-employment for the poor but that cannot be counted as a job.”

Another Congress leader Manish Tewari also waded into the debate and tweeted saying management and law graduates are standing in lines for peons’ jobs because they can’t find gainful employment. Tewari posted a TOI news clip from Bhopal, to substantiate his point. And he, too, took a swipe at PM Modi for saying selling pakodas is a gainful job.

“MBA’s & LLB’s are queuing up to become Peons & the Hon’ble Prime Minister is telling us that his government has created jobs. No wonder he believes that selling Pakoras is a regular decent job,” Tewari tweeted.

In a recent interview to a television channel, PM Modi reportedly said, “If a person selling pakodas (snacks) earns Rs 200 at the end of the day, will it be considered employment or not?”

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