Hitting out at Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) over comments by its MPs, including those in a parliamentary panel, on the use of tobacco, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) on Friday said the episode has exposed the saffron party’s “actual agenda” and “charitra” (character).
The AAP requested the Lok Sabha Speaker to take immediate action in this connection, and asked the BJP to clarify its stance on the issue – whether it stands by tobacco lobby or the people’s health.
BJP MP from Assam’s Tezpur Ram Prasad Sarmah on Friday claimed there is no clear proof yet linking cigarette puffing and cancer. Sarmah’s statement came after another BJP MP, Dilip Gandhi, stoked a controversy saying there was no Indian study to prove tobacco consumption leads to cancer.
Gandhi is the chairman of the parliamentary committee on subordinate legislation, which is looking into the rules regarding sale of tobacco in the country.
Gandhi was followed by BJP MP from Allahabad and the committee member, Shaym Charan Gupta, who had on Thursday stated there is “nil” effect of smoking.
“All these remarks are a clear case of conflict of interest. The fact Gupta is into the tobacco industry and also a member of Parliamentary Committee of Subordinate Legislation looking into the rules regarding tobacco sale in the country is a mockery of the Parliamentary standards of legislation and policy making,” the AAP said in a statement.
The Arvind Kejriwal-led party further alleged statements made by BJP Parliamentarians in support of tobacco syndicate are not just “grossly unethical” but also raises several questions on effectiveness of Parliamentary functioning.
“With conflict of interest and vested moves of the members and head of the Parliamentary committee out in the open, the Speaker should recall the report and take action against the those who continued to be part of the committee without due declaration,” the party said.
The AAP also asked the BJP leadership to come clear on its stand in this regard and answer people if it has purposely let its political space and platform to be utilised by vested lobbies to pursue their “selfish interests”.