In response to the escalating tomato prices, a vegetable vendor in Varanasi has taken an unconventional approach to protect his stall by hiring bouncers. Ajay Fauji, a member of the Samajwadi Party, stated that he opted for this security measure due to instances of violence and tomato theft reported in the area.
Fauji, who recently celebrated Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav’s birthday by cutting a tomato-shaped cake in Varanasi, decided to employ bouncers to discourage aggressive behaviour during price negotiations with buyers. The media reported that these hired guards are stationed at Fauji’s cart from 9 am to 5 pm.
A video capturing the bouncers in action at Fauji’s stall was shared by Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav. The footage reveals two bouncers diligently guarding the vegetable vendor’s stall. Prominent signboards with the messages “Payment first, tomato later” and “Please don’t touch the tomatoes and chillies” are also visible.
Reacting to the news, SP chief Akhilesh Yadav retweeted an image of a news clip featuring Fauji and his bouncers and commented, “The BJP should provide ‘Z-Plus’ security to tomatoes.”
According to farmers, the surge in tomato prices can be attributed to a combination of production and supply shortages caused by a heatwave and delayed monsoon. Tomato prices have skyrocketed across various regions in India, reaching as high as Rs 200 per kilogram.
Unfavourable weather conditions, including heavy rainfall in certain growing areas and above-average temperatures last month, have significantly impacted tomato production, resulting in a fivefold price increase compared to previous years. Although tomato prices typically surge during the lean production months of June and July, this year’s impact has been particularly severe.
In response to the price surge, popular fast food chain McDonald’s has made the decision to temporarily remove tomatoes from its menu.