Congress leader Sanjay Nirupam was detained by the police at Girgaum Chowpatty when he was heading towards the state secretariat to take part in a ‘Pakoda Protest’. However, Nirupam was not allowed to join party members who were protesting against Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent remark that ‘pakoda’ selling in roadside stalls is also a form of employment. Prime Minister Modi, in a TV interview, had remarked that people earning Rs 200 a day selling pakodas can be considered employed. Congress senior leader P Chidambaram came down heavily on the comment and said that if pakoda selling is employment so is begging. Chidambaram claimed there is a stark difference in having a job and being self-employed. He said that chiefly the former is steady and secure form of employment, whereas the latter may not necessarily be so.
Other opposition leaders also criticised PM’s comment. CPM general secretary Prakash Karat taking a jibe at the PM had said that now the incumbent government is providing ‘pakoda jobs’ for millions of youths in the country and said that the prime minister’s comment reflected the government’s massive failure in generating employment in the country. Karat cited ‘Report on Employment-Unemployment Survey 2015-16’ and said that half of nation’s workforce (46.6 per cent) is self-employed and out of that 41 per cent earn only Rs 5,000 per month.
However, BJP President Amit Shah in his first speech at the Parliament slammed P Chidambaram’s comment by retorting that Congress is not in a position to criticise as they could not address the fundamental issue when they were in power. Shah went on to say that Congress was trying to demean pakoda-sellers and claimed that now chai-wallahs and pakoda-sellers can aspire to be India’s PM.
Sanjay Nirupam was not the only person to be detained for trying to participate in the ‘Pakoda Protest’. Notably, last Sunday, Bengaluru students donning convocation robes were seen selling pakodas in Mekhri Circle before PM Modi’s rally there – they were detained by police. Pondicherry CM V Narayanasamy also held a pakoda selling event at a traffic junction as a form of protest over PM’s remark.