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MPs fret over food served in canteen

New Delhi, July 30: Some Rajya Sabha MPs today complained about the food in the Parliament canteen, with one saying some members had fallen ill and wondering if it was a “conspiracy of the government to keep the Opposition’s mouth shut”.

It was not clear if Janata Dal (United) member K. C. Tyagi made the “conspiracy” remark in jest.

Tyagi raised the matter during zero hour, fretting about the food and saying Samajwadi MPs Jaya Bachchan and Ram Gopal Yadav had fallen ill after eating in the canteen.

Today, Tyagi wanted to know if it was a “conspiracy of the government to keep the Opposition’s mouth shut during the budget discussions” in which several members have been raising questions about the Centre’s plans.

Parliamentary affairs minister Venkaiah Naidu said the matter would be looked into. “Tyagiji has raised the issue. I do not know whether he raised it in a lighter vein or was serious. But the government will look into it,” Naidu said after deputy chairman P.J. Kurien asked the minister to examine the complaints.

Some Opposition members said the food was from Gujarat, referring to the Prime Minister’s home state but drawing a sharp retort from Naidu. “Some people keep dreaming of Gujarat, what can I do?”

Jaya said the problem wasn’t new and had been recurring for the past four to five years. “They are serving stale food.” The Congress’s Rajeev Shukla said the problem could be the lack of a kitchen in Parliament. The complex had one earlier but it was closed in 2012 because of security concerns.

Nearly 8,000 people, including MPs, journalists and Parliament eat in the canteen daily when it is in session.

Deputy chairman P.J. Kurien asked the government to examine and take steps. At this, Naidu said: “I have taken note of it. I have told the canteen staff about it.”