Responding to a joint letter by MPs, BJD MP Baijayant Jay Panda on Thursday defended his demand for scrapping food subsidy, saying they were trying to distract from the issue by dragging in “recycled” allegations against his family-owned business.
Requesting the MPs to treat the canteen subsidy issue on its own merit, Panda said it has been attracting enormous criticism from “thousands of citizens”. A group of MPs, including M B Rajesh (CPM) and Mullappally Ramachandran (Congress), had on Wednesday shot off a letter asking 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.
“I was disappointed that you have tried to distract from the issue by dragging in recycled allegations against me and my relatives from decades ago, which have been refuted and clarified in public,” he said, providing a link to the post in his website.
In the letter, Panda said, “There are many bigger policy issues we should be grappling with instead of spending so much time on this, which you have described as paltry amount. Nevertheless, this is symbolic of many other big and small privileges that are increasingly being criticised by the public as part of endemic VVIP culture.”
Responding to Panda, Rajesh told Deccan Herald that the BJD MP was “conveniently silent” on the issues raised in their letter. “The question was that whether he was ready to forgo concessions given to family business. That was the bigger and direct question to him and on that, he is silent. Why is he merely giving up food subsidy?” he said.