The episode didn't explicitly say it, but the drama around Esoqq not being able to eat the "food", and only being able to go 3-4 days without food. Was that implying that he would inevitably turn on the rest of them and eat them?
Esoqq sure didn't seem to have a problem with the concept and I don't think he'd be squeamish about it if it came to that. Heck, it's not even cannibalism if you want to split hairs. I mean Klingons dined on the hearts of their enemies and from what we sall of Esoqq the Chalna weren't even that "cultured."
Picard called it pretty accurately, they manufactured the situation to create conflict among them. I really didn't get why they mimicked the Bolian girl though. It just increases the chances of them being found out, which is what happened.