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‘Machis kis ke haath mein thi?’: Nirmala Sitharaman gives a befitting response to Mahua Moitra, questions her on post-poll violence in Bengal

In a blistering attack against Mahua Moitra, Sitharaman said, "BJP had a fantastic victory in Gujarat but it concluded in a peaceful manner. Compare it with what happened in West Bengal post the state government election. Who had the matchstick there and how it was used then? When you had matchsticks, at that time, arson, looting, and rape took place."

On 14th December 2022, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman gave a befitting response to Trinamool Congress Party’s MP Mahua Moitra, a day after the latter took a ‘machis jibe’ at the government and questioned the public mandate given to it. Nirmala Sitharaman tore into Moitra, saying it is not about who holds the matches, but it is about who uses the matchstick in what way.

While speaking in Lok Sabha during the winter session of the parliament, Nirmala Sitharaman said, “Machis kis ke haath mein hai? (In whose hands is the matchstick?) I don’t want to elaborate too much on it because it is probably that she just wanted to spice up the questions and issues she raised, which I think in different ways I have tried to answer. But it is a matter of concern, Sir. Because who gave the matches is not the issue. Because in a democracy people elect the leader. We don’t need to undermine the people by saying who gave the matches in their hands. The people have given it.”

Nirmala Sitharaman added, “All that matters is how a matchstick is used by a person when it is in his or her hands. Recently, BJP had a fantastic victory in Gujarat. What was the post-election environment there? Peacefully the new government came to power and was sworn in. Compare it with what happened in West Bengal post the state government election. Who had the matchstick there and how it was used then? And that is the real question. When we had a matchstick, we gave Ujjwala Yojana – a gas cylinder. We also gave electricity, PM Kisan Yojana, etc. We ran Swachh Bharat Mission.”

“When you had matchsticks, at that time, arson, looting, and rape took place. You set the houses of our workers on fire. A Union Minister, Mularidharan’s vehicle was attacked. Even a union minister was not safe post-election in Bengal. JP Nadda’s vehicle was attacked during the campaign. Murlidharan’s vehicle was attacked after the elections. So not who was given the matches, but who used it in what way should be considered,” said Sitharaman, responding to Moitra over her tirade against the Centre.

Earlier, TMC MP from Krishnanagar in West Bengal Mahua Moitra ranted and raved against the central government during the question hour and took a matchbox jibe saying, “What the country needs is an elected government which plays hard morality, hard legality, and hard economics. I urge this government and the finance minister to take control of the economy. And I urge the people of India to take control over who they give the reigns to rule this country. The question is not who lit the fire, the question is who handed the matchbox to a crazy person? This is a question that India needs to answer.”

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