Stepping up its attack on the United Progressive Alliance government on latest figures on the Below Poverty Line (BPL) population, the Bharatiya Janata Party on Thursday charged the government with making a mockery of the poor and misleading people.
“The government keeps on giving a new definition of poverty according to its whims and fancy. Sometimes it raises the number of poor and sometimes its decreases it as and when it suits its requirements,’’ senior BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi told journalists here.
The government had given the latest figures showing that the BPL population had decreased so that it could cover less people under the Food Security Bill. The Planning Commission had stated that the number of BPL population now stood at 21.9 per cent. “The government does not have the funds needed for providing grains. So it is decreasing the number of poor.’’ With the Centre maintaining there was less number of people under the BPL, the responsibility would shift to the State governments to implement the Food Security Bill, Dr. Joshi said.
The figures were released to indicate to investors that the Indian economy was improving and there were more people with purchasing power and less number of poor. They were far removed from truth and ground reality. Citing the Dharavi slum in Mumbai, Dr. Joshi said that out of 10 lakh dwellers there, only 141 BPL cards were issued. “If one million-strong population of slum dwellers in Dharavi has only a miniscule of BPL cards, it only shows that nobody is poor in the country. What kind of a cruel joke, the government is playing on the poor,” he asked.
The senior BJP leader hit out at the Congress for claiming that one could have a proper meal for Rs. 12 in Mumbai and Rs. 5 in Delhi. “We will give Rs. 12 to Congress leaders and let them show us how they can have one meal with it,” Dr. Joshi said, quipping: “I hope it is not e-food.”
Referring to the findings of committees headed by Naresh Chandra, Arjun Sengupta and Suresh Tendulkar, he said the poverty figures were much higher than what was being claimed by the government.
Dr. Joshi said the Naresh Chandra Committee had stated that poverty figures should be “drastically revised upwards to 50 per cent though it should be 80 per cent.” Similarly, the Arjun Sengupta Committee had claimed 79.8 per cent people were in BPL category.
If calculations were made at the current 2013 rates, more funds would be required for survival, as cost of grains, transport, and other items has gone up. The BJP would raise the issue in the coming Parliament session. Dr. Joshi demanded that the government come out with a White Paper on the state of the economy.
Citing figures, he said that during the National Democratic Alliance regime, the foreign debt was $112 billion, but now it stood at $390 billion.
An exercise in deceit, says CPI(M)
Aarti Dhar reports from New Delhi :
The Communist Party of India (Marxist) has criticised the Planning Commission’s data that said poverty had declined in the country, saying the United Progressive Alliance government was carrying out an “exercise of deceit’’ before elections to show that the poor had benefitted during its tenure.
According to the Planning Commission, in 2011-12, the national poverty line by using the Tendulkar methodology is estimated at Rs. 33.33 in cities and Rs. 27.20 in villages a day, a person.
“Anyone spending more than this amount not only on food but also on the consumption of all goods and services is not poor! There cannot be a more absurd and inhuman definition of being a non-poor person, ’’ an editorial in the latest edition of the party mouthpiece, People’s Democracy, said.
It described the Commission’s definitions as ‘ridiculous.’
The percentage of persons living below the poverty line declined from 41.8 to 25.7 in rural areas and from 25.7 to 13.7 per cent in urban areas from the time the UPA-1 government was formed in 2004-05 to 2011-12.
“In actual terms, we are told that compared to 40.71 crore people below poverty line in 2004-05, there were only 26.93 crore in 2011-12, which is 21.9 per cent of our population.” The figures made “a mockery of life and death struggles’’ of people, amidst continuous rise in prices and “massive’’ slashing of subsidies for the poor. The urban poverty level definition would not be sufficient to buy even one kg of a decent variety of rice in the open market today.
“The manner in which this has been done only reconfirms an age-old English adage — there are lies, damned lies and statistics,’’ the editorial said.