Poverty debate: Yashwant Sinha targets PM, says UPA leaderless

Bharatiya Janata Party leader Yashwant Sinha lashed out at the ruling Congress Party over the ongoing debate over poverty and cheap meals.

New Delhi: Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Yashwant Sinha on Saturday lashed out at the ruling Congress Party over the ongoing debate over poverty and cheap meals, saying the UPA Government at the Centre has been leaderless from day one and that is the root cause of all problems that the country is facing.

Sinha said that it seriously raises the issue of leadership within the Congress Party and within the government.

"The point is who is the in-charge? How did the Planning Commission come out with these outlandish figures without the approval of the chairman of the Planning Commission, which is the Prime Minister of India? So, if the Prime Minister is a party to this whole obnoxious drama then what is everybody else in the government doing," said Sinha.

"This government has been leaderless, this coalition has been leaderless from day one and that is the root cause of all the problems that the country is facing," he added.

Sinha, who was the country`s Finance Minister during the NDA regime, said the Congress Party follows the policy of running with hare and hunting with hound.

"The Planning Commission comes out with poverty figures, which are ridiculed the country over. And then officials of the Congress Party, spokespersons of the Congress Party further compound the sin by making outlandish claims that you can eat a full meal in five rupees or twelve rupees. When that is further criticized and condemned then some officials of the Congress Party and some Ministers of the government challenge the claim that the Planning Commission has made," said Sinha.

"So, the whole point is that if you are with the Planning Commission, you are with the government. If you are with Digvijay Singh and Kapil Sibal, you are still with the Congress Party and the government," he added.

Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh today joined Union Law and Justice Minister Kapil Sibal in questioning the way poverty is calculated in India.

"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.

"First indicator of poverty is malnourishment and anaemia in the family which is easily measurable. Can`t we have that as a criteria?" he said in another tweet.

Digvijay Singh`s statements come a day after Sibal challenged the Planning Commission`s method of calculating poverty, saying a family of five cannot live on Rs 5,000 a month

The controversy began with Congress spokesperson Raj Babbar earlier saying that l meal would cost Rs 12 in Mumbai. He was later joined by fellow MP Rasheed Masood who said its Rs 5 in Delhi.

Both the leaders later withdrew their remarks and apologised after media reports termed them as outrageous.

The Planning Commission had earlier on Tuesday said poverty ratio in the country had declined to 21.9 percent in 2011-12 from 37.2 percent in 2004-05 on account of increase in per capita consumption.

Using the Tendulkar methodology, the commission estimated the national poverty line for rural areas at Rs 816 per capita per month and for urban areas at Rs 1,000 per capita per month for 2011-12.

This would mean that the people whose daily consumption of goods and services exceed Rs 33.33 in cities and Rs 27.20 in villages are not poor.


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