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Jul 27, 2013 at 04:27pm IST

Congress leaders slam Planning Commission on poverty figures

New Delhi: Congress leaders have joined the debate to slam the Planning Commission on poverty figures and questioned the commission's method of defining the poverty.

Congress General Secretary Digvijaya Singh took on to Twitter to express his dissent and said he failed to understand the commission's criteria for fixing the poverty line. "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," he said

He also suggested that malnourishment, anaemia can be used as a criteria, "First indicator of poverty is malnourishment and anaemia in the family which is easily measurable. Can't we have that as a criteria?" he added.

Union Minister Kapil Sibal has also questioned the commission's method of defining the poverty line. Sibal had said that it is not possible for a famiy of five to survive on only Rs 5000 a month.

Kapil Sibal said, "If planning commission says a family can live with Rs 5000 and anyone above the income level of Rs 5000 is not under poverty line then obviously something is wrong with the definition of poverty in this country. How can I family of 5 live at Rs 5000 a month?"

Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Rajeev Shukla defended the UPA government and said this is a Tendular Committee report given by the Planning Commission and not the government's report. "The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has no moral authority to talk on poverty line because in their regime the poverty rate was below the recommendation of the Tendulkar Committee," he said.

The BJP too hit at the Planning Commission and said the government ministers themselves do not understand how the commission works. "Even though Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is the Chairman of the Planning Commission, government ministers themselves say they don't understand how the commission works. The Congress should stop making insensitive comments," BJP spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain said.

He also asked Congress President Sonia Gandhi to reprimand her party workers and said the Prime Minister should stop poking fun at the poor.

Senior BJP leader Yashwant Sinha asked how did the commission come out with such figures without the approval of the chairman of the commission. "How did the Planning Commission come out with such figures without the approval of the chairman of the commission which is the Prime Minister of India?

"So if the Prime Minister is party to this obnoxious drama, then what is everybody else in the government doing?" he questioned.

Janata Dal United leader Sharad Yadav also hit out at the commission and said, "No one talks about the Arjun Sengupta Committee because it is close to the truth. Defining poverty has always been an issue in our country. We can never identify the poor."

The Planning Commission had sparked a controversy after it said that a family of five can live on Rs 4,080 per month in rural areas and Rs 5,000 per month in urban areas.