New Delhi: After the Madhya Pradesh government said that it was planning to introduce eggs in anganwadi meals to fight malnutrition, the leader of opposition in the state assembly, Gopal Bhargava, claimed that the move could turn children into cannibals, according to a report in the Hindustan Times.
The state’s Women and Child Development Minister Imarti Devi on Wednesday said the state government planned to introduce eggs in anganwadi meals to fight rampant malnutrition and that eggs would also be served to pregnant women. “Eggs will not be served to everyone but only to those who have no objection. What’s wrong in serving eggs to the malnourished children?” she asked
“What else can we expect from a malnourished government?” he said. “Today they are giving eggs. If it doesn’t solve the problem of malnutrition they will then give mutton and chicken to them…If we teach this right from the childhood, they may end up becoming cannibals when they grow up.” Bhargava said and added that “our culture” prohibits non-vegetarianism.
#WATCH Madhya Pradesh (MP) BJP leader Gopal Bhargava on MP government’s proposal to distribute eggs at Anganwadis says, “Bharat ke jo sanskar hain, sanatan sanskriti mein mansahaar nished hai. Agar bachpan se hi hum ise khaayenge toh bade ho kar nar bhakshi na ho jaayen.” (30.10) pic.twitter.com/s9INELUsYw
— ANI (@ANI) October 31, 2019
The BJP’s national general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya said that the Congress government in the state was trying to “interfere with belief and sentiments of people”. “We will oppose the move of the state government,” Vijayvargiya said.
Previously, the BJP’s state unit vice-president Rameshwar Sharma had said that giving children eggs would increase malnutrition as children from some vegetarian families would stop going to the anganwadi centres if eggs were to be served.
Congress spokesperson of Madhya Pradesh’s state unit Bhupendra Gupta questioned Bhargava’s remarks and said, “Does Bhargava want to say that those who eat eggs, meat and chicken become cannibals? Do many BJP leaders and workers not eat non-veg food?”
Criticising Bhargava’s statements, Congress party spokesperson Narendra Saluja said that the BJP was simply looking for political issues to raise. “In its 15-year regime, malnutrition was a major problem among children below the age group of five years but the BJP leaders did not raise the issue,” Saluja told the Times of India and said that “The minister has clarified that [the] government’s priority is children’s health.”
Previously, the BJP-led state government under Shivraj Singh Chouhan had removed eggs from the mid-day meals in 2015 after protests
However, as the number of malnourished children below the age of five years crossed over 42% in Madhya Pradesh, the woman and child development department decided to introduce eggs in the meal from the current month.
Madhya Pradesh has around 97, 135 anganwadis and 6,57,100 children between the ages of six months and six years are enrolled with them as of March 31, a state WCD official said.
The row, incidentally, comes days after a UNICEF report stated that malnutrition caused 69% of deaths of children below the age of five in India.