Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan may have blocked inclusion of eggs in anganwadi meals, but his Animal Husbandry Minister Kusum Mehdele can’t seem to stop raving about the virtues of eating frog legs and fish.
Mehdele and Chouhan, a strict vegetarian, shared the stage Monday at a state-level convention of fishermen, organised by the Jawaharlal Nehru Krishi Vishwa Vidyalaya in Jabalpur.
Though the Cabinet minister stopped short of prescribing fish for anganwadis, she said it was a great way to tackle malnutrition among children and, for that matter, everyone else.
In comments that made many in the audience laugh, she said, “You must have eaten, or at least heard about how tasty frog legs are.” She added that she was a non-vegetarian who loved fish and saw nothing wrong in talking about it in public. “Let’s all eat fish so that fishermen make money,” she said.
She went on to say that she would “soon make the whole of Madhya Pradesh machhlimay (full of fish) and kachhuamay (full of tortoises)”.
When contacted, Mehdele said there was nothing wrong if those who eat non-vegetarian at home are provided fish or other non-vegetarian dishes.
Chouhan’s speech, meanwhile, steered clear of any mention of food. The CM spoke about how the government would protect the interests of fishermen by providing interest-free loans. The CM also said the fishermen’s job was very difficult and the government would provide accident insurance worth Rs 2 lakh to them.
Chouhan recently shot down a proposal to include either egg curry or boiled eggs in anganwadi meals on a pilot basis in the tribal areas of Alirajpur, Mandla and Hoshangabad districts.
Later, a press release issued by the directorate of public relations made no mention of what Mehdele said in her speech. It only acknowledged her presence, saying she “also spoke”.