New Delhi: BJP on Thursday charged the government with making a mockery of the poor with its latest figures stating that BPL population has decreased and said this has been done to cover less people under the Food Security Act.
"Central government has come out with new figures about people below the poverty line which brings out some new facts as well. It proves that the government defines poverty as per its whims and fancy. It increases the number of the poor or decreases it as and when it wants," BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi told reporters.
The Planning Commission had stated that the number of BPL population now stands at 21.9 per cent.
"The government does not have the funds that would be required to be spent on providing foodgrains when the Food Security Bill is passed so it is decreasing the number of poor," Joshi said, adding that by doing so the government would have to fend for less people under the Act.
He said that with the Centre maintaining there are very less number of people Below the Poverty Line the burden would fall on the state governments when the Food Bill is passed.
"By reducing the number of those below the poverty line the funds needed under the Food Security Act will be reduced," Joshi said, adding that the Centre will conveniently tell the state concerned that it has more people below the poverty line and hence it should bear the rest of the expenditure.
"We charge the government with making a mockery of the plight of the poor people and with misleading them," he said.
Shukla said before application of Tendulkar Committee methodology, the calorie intake was the sole basis to fix a poverty line and now the spending on health and education is also factored in.
According to him, it was the UPA government which admitted the fact that as per Tendulkar methodology the poverty ratio was as high as 37.2 per cent in 2004-05 and using the same method experts assessed it at 29.8 per cent in 2009-10.
Explaining further he said that even when the government is in the process of further fine-tuning the methodology for tabulating the number of poor in the country, the Opposition is taking unnecessary pot shots to tarnish government`s efforts.
Singling out Narendra Modi for attack, he said Gujarat was far behind several states, including Delhi, Goa and Haryana, in terms of monthly per capita expenditure or state poverty line.
He further said that the poverty line at Rs 1,152 in cities of Gujarat is lower than that in Haryana, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Punjab and Puducherry.
In rural areas, the minister said the Rs 932 poverty line or monthly per capita expenditure of Gujarat is lower than that in Delhi, Goa, Haryana, Kerala, Maharashtra, Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland, Punjab and Puducherry.
The Minister also said the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance headed by former Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha has been requested to suggest a methodology for measuring poverty in the country.
The request was made when the Committee members met the Commission officials about six months ago. They are yet to revert back to the Commission on the issue.