Subsidised food issue: BJD MP told to practise first, preach later

Subsidised food issue: BJD MP told to practise first, preach later

“Practise before you preach”- seems to be the advice of a group of MPs to their BJD colleague in Parliament, Baijayant 'Jay' Panda, who wanted the lawmakers to give up food subsidy.

More than 12 MPs have asked Panda to first give up “all big benefits and concessions” his family-owned company had received earlier, which included a loan waiver of Rs 2,300 crore.

The letter, initiated by CPM MP M B Rajesh and signed by others, said they have received his letter asking them to give up subsidy for Parliament canteen for “setting an example for the entire nation". MPs like Mullappally Ramachandran, K C Venugopal (both Congress), A Sampath, Ritabrata Banerjee and C P Narayanan (all CPM) have signed the petition.

Panda’s demand came after an RTI query revealed that the government spent Rs 60.7 crore during the last five years as subsidy for Parliament canteen. He also wrote to Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan that the removal of food subsidy for MPs will be a “right step in effecting greater public trust and confidence in our role as lawmakers”. The MPs said they have learnt that his family-owned Indian Charge Chrome Ltd had got a waiver/concession of around Rs 2,300 crore by IDBI, which they claimed was 16.5 per cent of the bank’s aggregate Rs 16,000 crore Non-Performing Asset (NPA).

The letter also referred to media reports that Indian Metals and Ferror Alloys, another family enterprise, found place in the top 20 loan defaulters in the country. “...Thousands of crores (of rupees worth) benefits/concessions received directly or indirectly by MPs is a much bigger ethical issue than the paltry amount of food subsidy. Since we have never benefited from loan waiver or tax concessions, we can only give up our subsidised food. We hope you will give up all big benefits and concessions received,” the MPs wrote. They also wanted him to oppose all concessions to corporate and other affluent sections in future. “Let us together set a far better example as representatives of people,” the letter said.

They went on to add: “As in the case of subsidised food in Parliament canteen, we expect you to take initiative in this case, too, by setting a personal example.”

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