Speaking at an the inauguration of an international magic festival in Thiruvananthapuram on Sunday, Defence Minister A K Antony refuted Bush's statement about changing food habits in India being responsible for world food crisis and said that the United States and other developed countries are responsible for having converted millions of hectares of agricultural land for bio fuel production.
"We cannot deny the fact the food prices are soaring and it is a fact that the world food prices are rising. But we should look into the matter and find out what is the real reason. Many countries including America are responsible for this trend and they have converted millions of hectares of agricultural land for bio fuel production. And instead of correcting their mistake, they are blaming India. The need of the hour is to correct the situation, else we would be faced with food crisis and people will die of starvation," said Antony.
Voicing similar views, Congress Party's spokesman Abhishek Manu Singhvi said: "The President of America and other leaders of that country should think before they advise other countries. If they look within, they would realise that the per capita consumption per person in their own country is almost 10 per cent more than that of the Indians."
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)'s senior leader Murli Manohar Joshi, who is on a visit to Chennai, also condemned Bush's statement.
Joshi said that Bush is speaking out of ignorance and said that he is not aware of the current agricultural situation in India and the fact that there are many people who still cannot manage two square meals a day.
"BJP feels that his (Bush's) statement is not acceptable and that he is speaking out of ignorance. But if he is speaking knowingly, then it is totally condemnable," said Joshi.
Earlier on Saturday, several party leaders said whether Bush thought the Indians did not have the right to eat better. Why should the US talk about this when India was producing most of the food needed by its people and when it was well known that the US was diverting farm produce like corn to make bio-fuel, they asked.
Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) General Secretary Prakash Karat has said it only showed how insensitive the remarks were. "This is adding insult to injury," Karat added.
CPI National Secretary D Raja blamed US policies for all major crises facing the world, particularly in energy and food sectors.
Bush had reportedly said that prosperity in developing countries like India was 'good' but it has triggered increased demand for 'better nutrition', which in turn has led to increase in demand and rise in food prices.
Bush endorsed US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's earlier comments that the world food crisis was a result of 'improvement in the diets of people in India and China'.
Rice had observed that this was forcing the two countries to keep the food supply within the limits of their geographical boundaries leading to a food grain shortage worldwide.