New Delhi: After Prime Minister Narendra Modi intervened on the issue of conflict of interest on increasing pictorial warning on tobacco products, the Parliamentary panel will be meeting on Monday afternoon to rethink on the issue.
On Sunday, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Venkaiah Naidu had summoned Bharatiya Janata Party MP Shyama Charan Gupta and asked him to explain his explain his remark where he said that there is no link between tobacco and cancer. The beedi baron has also been asked to explain why he did not recuse himself from the committee.
The Allahabad MP rejected reports of being summoned and said, "I have not received any order to explain myself. If I get summoned, I will explain my position."
Union Minister Harsh Vardhan also hit out at the MPs saying that the comments on the Parliamentary panel were irresponsible.
He said, "There is no doubt that smoking is linked to cancer. The conflict of interest in this case is wrong. The Prime Minister has clearly expressed his opinion on the subject."
The Prime Minister on Saturday had directed the Health Ministry to increase the size of the pictorial warning on tobacco packs to 65 per cent and not to take into account the views of people with conflict of interest.
The Parliamentary Committee, which Dilip Kumar Gandhi -- a BJP MP from Maharashtra heads, had "strongly" urged the government to keep on hold its proposal to increase the size of pictorial warnings on tobacco packets from 40 per cent to 85 per cent.
"All agree on the harmful effects of tobacco. But there is no Indian survey report to prove that tobacco consumption leads to cancer. All the studies are done abroad. Cancer does not happen only because of tobacco. We have to study the Indian context, as four crore people in states like Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Chhattisgarh are dependent on bidi-making through Tendupatta," Gandhi had said.
Gupta had said the pictoral warnings should remain at 40 per cent and the demand to make it 80 per cent was not genuine. Gupta also said that sugar causes diabetes and should be banned by the same logic. He added that beedis are less harmful.
Gupta said, "Pictorial warnings should remain at 40 per cent. Demand to make warnings 80 per cent is not genuine. Sugar causes diabetes and it should be banned by same logic. Beedis are less harmful than sugar."
Another BJP MP from Sonitpur Ram Prasad Sharma had backed Gandhi saying, "A person from my constituency used to smoke 60 cigarettes a day and died a natural death at the age of 86. Another person who smokes 40 cigarettes a day is still alive. They don't have cancer."