BJP slams govt for claiming BPL number has fallen

New Delhi: The BJP today hit out at the government and the Planning Commission for its claim that the number of people living below the poverty line has fallen, alleging that the Manmohan Singh regime has lowered the daily income level and appears to be setting a "starvation line".

Deputy Leader of BJP in Rajya Sabha S S Ahluwalia told reporters that his party had earlier reacted to the Planning Commission report submitted to the Supreme Court on the BPL criteria. "We want the government to tell us how a person can live with Rs 32 per day in urban areas and Rs 26 per day in rural areas. Now they have lowered the criteria further," Ahluwalia said.

The Planning Commission had yesterday released data to show that poverty had significantly declined between 2004-05 and 2009-10 after it lowered the income criteria for defining poor from the previous Rs 32 per day mark to Rs 29.

"I don`t know which line they are drawing. Whether it is the starvation line or the poverty line. It is beyond the imagination of the Prime Minister and the Planning Commission to know how a person can survive on such a low income," Ahluwalia said.

The BJP maintained that for a person to live a life of dignity and to meet his needs of clothing, food, medical facilities and the like, the amount of Rs 29 is too less.

"The children in this country are dying of malnutrition. Arjun Sengupta Committee had said 80 per cent of the people in the country are below the poverty line. I don`t know from where this government is getting its data. It is virtually making starvation line the poverty line," he said.