Planning Commission`s poverty definition `ridiculous`: CPI

Communist Party of India leader D Raja criticised the Congress Party for its wavering statements on the issue of poverty.

New Delhi: Communist Party of India (CPI) leader D Raja on Saturday criticised the Congress Party for its wavering statements on the issue of poverty.

Commenting on Congress leaders Kapil Sibal and Digvijay Singh`s remarks that criticised the Planning Commission`s methodology for defining poverty in the country, Raja said the constant need to redefine poverty was one that is utterly ridiculous.

"It is very ironical that our Planning Commission is manned by two well-known economists Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Mr Montek Singh Ahluwalia. This Planning Commission has been working out criteria to define poverty line. Earlier also, an affidavit has been given to the Supreme Court, the issue was raised in Parliament. Now also, they come with new criteria, a new definition of the poverty line. It is ridiculous, unscientific and irrational. Nobody can accept this. How (does) the Planning Commission give such ridiculous definitions? That is what one should question," Raja said in New Delhi today.

He urged Congress leaders Kapil Sibal and Digvijay Singh to pose their questions to the heads of the Commission.

"They should go and ask the two well-known economists, the Prime Minister and Mr Montek Singh Ahluwalia, who head the Planning Commission. They must ask them what criteria has been taken" Raja added.

Earlier, amidst the rousing debate on the definition of poverty amongst politicians, Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh on Saturday questioned the way poverty is calculated in the country.

"I have always failed to understand the Planning Commission criteria for fixing poverty line. It is too abstract, can`t be same for all areas," Singh tweeted this morning.

Singh followed his remark up by another tweet that suggested that certain criteria be laid down to define who is poor in the country.

"First indicator of Poverty is Malnourishment and Anaemia in the Family which is easily measurable. Can`t we have that as a criteria?" Singh said on Twitter.

Yesterday, Kapil Sibal had also conveyed that the process employed by the Planning Commission to calculate poverty was problematic.

"If the Planning Commission said those who live above Rs 5,000 a month are not at poverty line, obviously there is something wrong with the definition of poverty in this country. How can anybody live at Rs 5,000?" Sibal asked, at an address in Kolkata.

The Commission had stated earlier this week that for a family of five, the all-India poverty line with regard to consumption expenditure would amount to Rs 4,080 per month in rural areas and Rs 5,000 per month in urban areas.

According to the Tendulkar methodology, the Commission has calculated the national poverty line at Rs 816 per capita per month in villages and Rs 1,000 per capita per month in cities.

These figures have been severely debated and have stirred up huge controversy between political parties. The controversy began with Congress MP and spokesperson Raj Babbar earlier saying a full meal would cost Rs 12 in Mumbai followed soon by party MP Rasheed Masood who said it`s Rs 5 in Delhi. The opposition parties have strongly attacked both statements this week.


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