The extended debate on the gutka ban also provided lighter moments in the Legislative Council. The former Muzrai Minister and BJP MLC Kota Srinivasa Poojary compared it to the breaking of a marriage engagement.

“During an engagement, betel leaf and arecanut are offered by the prospective bride’s family to the groom’s family seeking complete protection to the girl. In the same way, the farmers of arecanut-growing regions voted you to power in expectation of some more welfare measures. However, you have breached their trust,” Mr. Poojary taunted the Congress.

Removing stigma

Responding to this later, Minister for Health and Family Welfare U.T. Khader said the Congress government had “removed the poison” in the betel leaf package by banning gutka. “This ban has also removed the stigma over arecanut as otherwise the nut itself was thought to cause cancer.”

BJP member G. Madhusudhan, responding to Mr. Khader’s statement that the ban was implemented to honour the Supreme Court’s directive, said the Congress appeared to adopt different yardsticks in honouring court verdicts. “The very same Supreme Court had come down heavily on the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in the coalgate scam, which in fact warrants the resignation of the Prime Minister. However, the Congress did not show any respect to those observations,” he quipped, attracting loud protests from the treasury benches.

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