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Beedi baron MP gives tobacco meet a miss.

BJP MP and beedi baron Shyama Charan Gupta, who is facing charges of conflict of interest for being part of a parliamentary committee on tobacco, skipped the panel's meeting held on Monday.

Gupta, the Lok Sabha MP from Allahabad, recently sparked a controversy by suggesting that there was " nil" effect of smoking on health.

His position in the parliamentary panel dealing with prohibition of tobacco has been questioned as he runs a successful beedi business.

Another member of the panel, MP Dilip Gandhi, who had claimed that there were no studies in India to prove that tobacco causes cancer, attended Monday's meeting.

He said the panel had not made any final decision on the tobacco warning issue.

When asked to comment on the controversy, Parliamentary Affairs Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu on Monday said anybody having conflict of interest should declare it as per rules. " Parliamentary issues cannot be discussed like this. The committees will work as per rules and regulations, and they will submit the report to Parliament, and Parliament will take a view," Naidu said.

The minister, however, refused to comment on whether the party has asked Gupta to resign from the committee of subordinate legislation, which is looking into framing rules for tobacco trade.

The new rule, which said pictorial warnings should cover 85 per cent of the packets of tobacco products instead of the current 40 per cent, was to be implemented from April 1. It has been kept on hold till the panel discusses the issue, evoking sharp criticism that the government has given in to the powerful tobacco lobby.

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Publication:Mail Today (New Delhi, India)
Date:Apr 7, 2015
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