New Delhi, Mar 31: Union Minister Prakash Javadekar on Tuesday dismissed BJP MP Dilip Gandhi's remarks that all studies linking cancer to tobacco have come from abroad and that there is no Indian survey report to confirm it.
"Do not listen to these things. Science is science. You cannot compromise on science," the Minister said, disapproving the statement of Gandhi, who heads the parliamentary panel on subordinate legislation examining the provisions of the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act, 2003.
Gandhi had yesterday said all studies linking cancer to tobacco have come from abroad and that one should consider the Indian aspect too.
The statement of Gandhi left BJP red-faced with Javadekar facing questions at a press conference on his remarks.
The parliamentary committee, which Gandhi - a BJP MP from Maharashtra - heads, had "strongly" urged the government to put on hold its proposal to increase the size of pictorial warnings on tobacco packets from 40 per cent to 85 per cent.
The government notification in this regard was to come into effect from today. The statement of Gandhi gave ammunition to opposition Congress with its General Secretary Digvijay Singh demanding a probe to find out whether there was any connection between BJP and cigarette manufacturers.
"One has to do some research on the connection between BJP and cigarette, gutka manufacturers. Then only we will find an answer... Issue is has the Congress party ever taken a decision or even initiated the procedure of removing these warnings from the cigarette packets or gutkas?... We have never done that. But here is a deliberate attempt to undo and sort of remove the warning," Singh alleged.
NCP MP Supriya Sule expressed her "shock" at the remarks and termed it as "unfortunate".
"I am not alarmed but I am shocked anybody can make a statement like that. It is very unfortunate... I will definitely go and talk to him because he is a very nice gentleman," she said. "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," Gandhi had said.