New Delhi: Criticising the government for its populist plan to provide free mobile phones to people below poverty line, BJP on Wednesday termed it an "election gimmick" aimed at diverting the attention of people from key issues confronting the nation.
The opposition party also reminded the government of its primary duty to feed the poor before providing them with mobile phones.
"This is an election gimmick to divert the attention of people from the real problems confronting the nation," said BJP leader Balbir Punj.
His party colleague Ravi Shankar Prasad said after burdening the poor with rising prices, the ruling party is trying to rub salt into their wounds by providing them with mobiles.
"By giving them mobiles, the government is rubbing salt into their wounds. This government has lost the confidence of the public. Giving mobiles or TVs or cycle or scooter would not matter as people are waiting for an opportunity," Prasad said.
Taking a jibe at the government for proposing such a move, BJP spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain said, "First the government should provide two meals to the poor and strengthen their hands to hold the mobile phones... Today they need food and then a house... What will they do with mobiles with empty stomachs?"
A populist plan to provide free mobile phones to people below poverty line (BPL) may be on the anvil with the Planning Commission exploring such a possibility and the scheme likely to be announced in the Prime Minister`s Independence Day address.
Asked about reports on the populist scheme, Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia said, "We are exploring that possibility. We are are working on an idea. The basic idea is that in rural areas, we need to incentivise access to mobile telephony".