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Centre, Gujarat at loggerheads over poverty figures

Last Updated: Monday, February 3, 2014 - 21:19

New Delhi: The Centre and the Narendra Modi government were at loggerheads on Monday over poverty figures, with Union Finance Minister P Chidambaram rejecting Gujarat`s income benchmark of Rs 10.80 a day to determine who is poor.

While the Gujarat government said the benchmark was based on Planning Commission criteria, the Centre disputed this.

"If the implication is that anyone who has an income of Rs 11 or 19 is above the poverty line, (it) has to be rejected," Chidambaram told reporters here.
He added that "our case has always been that these benchmarks are for deciding who should be the beneficiary (and) who should not be a beneficiary of a particular programme. These benchmarks are not indicators of poverty."

Recalling how the BJP had made a hue and cry over the Planning Commission`s poverty line of Rs 32 a day based on daily consumption, he said, "I can`t imagine how they can put out a number like 11 and 19. I have to check whether these numbers are derived or derivable from the Planning Commission`s numbers."

The Gujarat government insisted that the data is based on criteria that the Centre has not modified in the past 10 years. Gujarat gives rations to an additional 11 lakh families through its own resources, a state government statement had said.

Accusing Modi of levelling false allegations, Minister of State for Planning Rajeev Shukla said, "He has not updated (his poverty) figures and was still in Vajpayee government mindset. Now the figure is Rs 31.06 for rural areas and Rs 38.40 for urban areas (for Gujarat)."

Elaborating, Shukla said that after the Lakdawala Committee, there had been the Tendulkar Committee and after that, the matter is now being examined by the Rangarajan Committee.
The Rs 10.80 a day figures, Shukla said, are no longer relevant as they refer to the NDA regime, when poverty figures were calculated based on the methodology of the Lakdawala Committee.

Earlier in the day, the Congress lashed out at the BJP`s
Prime Ministerial candidate and asked him to apologise to the poor for "insulting" and making a "mockery" of them by keeping the poverty line so low.

AICC Communication Department Chairman Ajay Maken asked how the BJP, which had described the Planning Commission`s Below Poverty Line (BPL) figures of Rs 32 and Rs 28 a day in urban and rural areas as a "joke," could set a BPL limit of Rs 10.80 a day in Gujarat.

Hitting back at the Congress, the BJP said this criterion was decided by the Centre in 2004 and states had been instructed to follow it.

Asking the Congress to do its homework, BJP spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman said deciding the BPL criteria was the Centre`s prerogative.

She said if one went by the Centre`s methodology of poverty, only 21 lakh BPL families in Gujarat would have benefited. But the Gujarat government had made sure that an additional 11 lakh families were added to the list of beneficiaries.

First Published: Monday, February 3, 2014 - 17:32
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