Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP Dilip Gandhi, who faced severe criticism after taking a pro-tobacco stance last week, was lauded by the tobacco lobby on Monday.
The Pune Paan Association announced on Monday that its members had felicitated Gandhi at his Ahmednagar home on Sunday, to show their appreciation for his attempt to “counter misconceptions” about tobacco consumption and beedi smoking. Gandhi heads the parliamentary panel examining the provisions of the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act.
“We felicitated Dilip Gandhi because he cleared misconceptions among people. We don’t think we did anything wrong by felicitating Gandhi,” said Sharad More, president of the Pune Paan Association.
News of the felicitation came just a day after Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar mocked Gandhi over his comments in favour of tobacco consumption. Speaking in Ahmednagar on Sunday, Pawar had said, “I used to consume gutkha. I have paid a price for it. I had to undergo surgery and doctors had to remove my teeth.” The NCP chief, who was diagnosed with oral cancer in 2004, admitted tobacco was responsible for his health condition.
“I did that [underwent treatment] in time and that is why I came out of this. But in Ahmednagar, some knowledgeable public representatives say tobacco doesn’t have any effect. It seems these people have a deep knowledge of medical science.”
Speaking at his constituency last week, Gandhi had said, “There is no study which shows that tobacco causes cancer. There are people who have chewed tobacco but survived for 100 years.” Gandhi went on to say that “tobacco actually improves digestion.”