‘MPs having conflict of interest should declare it’

RSTV Bureau

naiduAmid a raging debate over BJP MPs in tobacco trade on a panel looking into framing rules for the product, Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu on Monday made it clear that anybody having conflict of interest is supposed to declare it as per rules.

Accosted with a barrage of questions on the conflict of interest among party MPs linked to tobacco trade, Naidu said the Committees do their work as per rules and will submit their report to Parliament.

“Parliamentary issues cannot be discussed here like this. The committees will do their work as per rules and regulations and they will submit the report to Parliament, and Parliament will take a view. From outside, I do not want to say anything.

“Anybody who has got a conflict of interest, as per the rule of Parliament you are supposed to declare the conflict of interest, if any. And then the Committee and the Parliament takes care of it,” he told.

Naidu, however, refused to comment on whether the party has asked him to intervene on the issue, asking its MP Shyama Charan Gupta to resign, who is part of tobacco trade and a member of Parliamentary Committee of Subordinate Legislation, which is looking into framing rules for tobacco trade.

He did not respond to speculation that government has asked its MPs having conflict of interest to resign from such parliamentary panels.

Another party MP Dilip Gandhi, who heads the parliamentary panel, had recently said there was no Indian study to show the link between tobacco use and cancer and had asked government to stall the increase in pictorial warnings on all tobacco products from the current 40 per cent to 85 per cent.

The new pictorial warning rules, which were to be implemented from April 1, have been kept in abeyance till the panel discusses the issue, evoking criticism from many that government has succumbed to tobacco lobby even as the issue of conflict of interest was raised by them.

Government had said that it will take a “measured and responsible” decision on the issue, with Finance Minister Arun Jaitley making it clear that the decision of the government in the matter will not be based on the opinions of individuals.