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UPA ally NCP joins Opposition in slamming poverty numbers

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on March 12, 2018

Planning Commission said that the number of people living below the poverty line has shrunk in both urban and rural areas. File Photo: M. Vedhan   -  The Hindu

A day after the release of poverty numbers by the Planning Commission, a key ally of the United Progressive Alliance Government, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), rejected the data. The Opposition parties, too, slammed figures claiming a steep decline in poverty.

“The ceiling set by the Planning Commission is totally wrong,” senior NCP leader and Heavy Industries Minister Praful Patel said here on Wednesday.

On Monday, the Commission announced the national poverty line as Rs 816 per capita per month for rural areas and Rs 1,000 per capita per month for urban areas. The data will vary from State to State. It also said that the poverty ratio had declined to 21.92 per cent in 2011-12 from 37.2 per cent in 2004-05.

Based on the national poverty line, an individual spending more than Rs 33.33 a day in a city will not be considered poor, while for a village this amount would be Rs 27.20.

Patel said, “(Planning) Commission should set a new ceiling keeping in mind inflation and high cost of living. We do not agree with this data.” When asked whether living at Rs 27-33 a day was sufficient for the poor, the Minister said though there had been progress in the country, the Planning Commission ceiling on poverty was incorrect.

Opposition reaction

The principal Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party slammed the poverty data as “political gimmick” while the CPI (M) said it amounted to “adding salt to the wounds of the poor”.

“The latest report showing reduction in the number of people below the poverty line is a conspiracy of the Congress against the poor to deprive them of the benefits of BPL schemes. This is the Congress mindset against the poor,” BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar, said.

He said these figures do not reflect the price rise and it was just a ‘political gimmick’ to show that more people were now out of poverty by lowering the benchmark.

“We challenge the Congress leaders to show how one can survive on Rs 34 per day... They want to show more people are rich by changing the definition,” Javadekar said, adding that the Government was trying to present a “false rosy picture”.

CPI(M) leader Brinda Karat said the figures were ‘dubious’ and ‘discredited.’

Rejecting the figures, Biju Janata Dal leader, Jay Panda, said a lot of work remains to be done in tackling poverty as the country still has a large number of poor people.

“There are many miles to go before we sleep,” he said, suggesting that there should be no politics over the issue.

shishir.sinha@thehindu.co.in

Published on July 24, 2013

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