Tamil Nadu Dairy Development Minister, Rajenthra Bhalaji's startling allegations in May against private milk manufacturers are back to haunt him. The Minister had said that the milk sold by private companies was adulterated and poses risk of cancer in children.
When questioned further he passionately proclaimed that he will resign or even hang himself if his accusations are proven false. But a month after his alarming statements, a Central Food Lab in Pune reported that there were no toxic ingredients in the milk samples sent by Tamil Nadu to the laboratory.
"His claims have been proven false. We can't ask him to commit suicide. So, we are asking him to resign," says Ponnusamy SA, the founder and president Tamil Nadu Milk Dealers Employees Welfare Association. The group wrote to Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami on June 25, demanding the minister be sacked for inducing fright in people over consumption of dairy products.
"He is constantly scaring people with his statements? If he had proof of carcinogenic substances existing in milk he should have acted earlier isn't it?" asks Ponnusamy. "He said private companies add hydrogen peroxide and formaldehyde but failed to act on it despite having 'proof'," he adds.
But following this, the minister allegedly flung more accusations. "After we wrote to the Chief Minister, Rajenthra Bhalaji accused our association of being unregistered and claimed I was sold out to these private manufacturers. So we are taking him to court over this matter of defamation," says Ponnusamy.
According to the association, a case is already pending in court over the minister's 'false' statements regarding milk produced by private manufacturers. "The minister, who is in such an important post, is constantly making wrong accusations. He needs to apologise to all of us and quit from his post," says Ponnusamy.
On May 24, the minister had said, "It is only due to consumption of milk of private firms that many children are afflicted with various diseases including cancer. I am collecting reports from various sources. I don't want to ban all the private producers without proper proof. Once I get the reports I will confront them with the proof and take action."
But now with the verdict on milk samples busting the minister's claims, it is yet to be seen how the state government will deal with its own leader.