New Delhi: Taking a dig at the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government for Home Minister P Chidambaram's alleged 'ice cream' remark, the BJP on Wednesday said the ruling alliance was "heartless" and "insensitive" about the concerns of the common man.
The Bharatiya Janata Party's reaction came even after Chidambaram clarified that his statement was distorted by the media and that he never mocked the middle class.
"The whole country has seen and heard what he (Chidambaram) said. It is a heartless and insensitive government," BJP spokesperson and general secretary Ravi Shankar Prasad said.
"Chidambaram should tell the country what is the cost of a 'thali' (platter) for the common man, and see how costly it is. This government, that limits poverty to Rs 28 in villages and Rs 32 in cities, is playing with the sentiments of the common man," Prasad said.
"This is an ugly joke," he said.
The BJP's attack comes even as the Home Minister clarified that he did not mock the middle class and his comment was misquoted.
In a statement, Chidambaram said he was "shocked and disgusted by the deliberate distortion of the relevant question and answer at the media briefing in Bangalore on Tuesday".
The statement quoted the minister as saying in response to a question on rising price burden on the common man: "We are prepared to pay 15 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 20 for an ice cream cone, but won't pay one rupee more for a kilo of wheat or rice."
"The home minister made a matter-of-fact statement. 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," the statement said.
"The 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, adding that the media had distorted his statement.
BJP leader Rajiv Pratap Rudy earlier said: "It seems that Chidambaram has inappropriately made a scandalous remark against the middle class and is ridiculing them. The BJP would treat this remark as a complete hate statement reflecting the inner contradictions of the government itself".