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Sen’s name in panel, govt shocked

Binayak Sen's appointment as malnutrition expert in a planning commission's committee on health has not only surprised Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh but also the home ministry. Prasad Nichenametla and Chetan Chauhan report.

delhi Updated: May 12, 2011 02:02 IST

Binayak Sen's appointment as malnutrition expert in a planning commission's committee on health has not only surprised Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh but also the home ministry.

On the day HT reported his appointment in a steering committee on health for the 12th Plan, the home ministry sought information from the commission on his appointment. The ministry wanted to know the context in which he has been nominated as a member but refrained from commenting on Sen’s appointment.

The first displeasure came from Chhattisgarh CM Singh.

"The chief minister had disapproved Sen's nomination as he is accused and out on bail. The case continues against him in the court," said N Baijendra Kumar, principal secretary to the chief minister.

Kumar was not aware if Singh had called plan panel deputy chairperson Montek Singh Ahluwalia or not but panel sources confirmed that the two did have a conversation.

Sayeeda Hamid, head of the steering committee, defended the decision saying Sen had worked among tribals "the worst sufferers of malnutrition, infant mortality in the country".

Ahluwalia was more cautious and said much should not be made out of his inclusion in a panel with 40 experts.

Sen, meanwhile, has agreed to be part of the committee, stating that his focus will be on health equity.

(with inputs from Ejaz Kaiser)