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Plan panel's figures on poverty draw flak from parties

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Plan panels figures on poverty draw flak from parties
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New Delhi: Political parties, including UPA constituent NCP, on Wednesday rubbished the Planning Commission’s claim that the number of poor people had declined to 21.9 per cent and said the criteria for identifying them should be updated.

The BJP slammed the figures as a “political gimmick” and a “conspiracy” of the Congress to deprive the poor of the benefits of government schemes while CPI-M said it amounted to “adding salt to the wounds of the poor”.

The NCP, which is part of the government, said it does not agree with the Planning Commission figures and that there should be a new ceiling for gauging poverty considering the current situation.

The BJD said the country still has a large population of poor people as he criticised the data that showed the number of those living below the poverty line has shrunk to 21.9 per cent in 2011-12 from 37.2 per cent in 2004-05 on account of increase in per capita consumption.

Commenting on the figures released by the Planning Commission on Tuesday, the BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar said, “The latest report showing reduction in the number of people below the poverty line is a conspiracy of the Congress against the poor to deprive them of the benefits of BPL schemes. This is the Congress mindset against the poor.”

He said these poverty figures do not reflect the price rise and is just a “political gimmick” to show more people are now out of poverty by lowering the benchmark.

“We challenge the Congress leaders to show how one can survive on Rs 34 per day... They want to show more people are rich by changing the definition,” Mr. Javadekar said, adding the government was trying to present a “false rosy picture”.

As per the government benchmark, a person earning over Rs 34 per day is above the poverty line.

“The Planning Commission’s ceiling of gauging poverty is completely wrong... We don’t agree with these figures,” the NCP leader and Union Heavy Industries Minister Praful Patel said.

The CPI(M) leader Brinda Karat said the figures are “dubious” and “discredited” and amounts to “adding salt to the wounds of the poor“.

Rejecting the figures, BJD leader Jay Panda said a lot of work remains to be done in tackling poverty as the country still has a large population of poor people.

“There are many miles to go before we sleep,” he said, while suggesting that there should be no politics over the issue.

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