Decline in poverty: Elders dub it as ploy to deceive poor

New Delhi: Opposition parties today raised the issue of Planning Commission reducing the number of people living below the poverty line dubbing it as a ploy to deceive the poor.

Soon after the Rajya Sabha met for the day, members from BJP, JD-U, BSP, AIADMK and the Left parties were on their feet seeking a discussion on the issue.

Chairman Hamid Ansari said the matter can be raised during the debate on the Union Budget and took up Question Hour. But the members were unrelenting and continued to raise the issue.

S S Ahluwalia (BJP) said the government is creating a new "starvation line" by setting the Rs 29 per day cut-off for income in urban areas and Rs 22 a day cut-off for income in rural areas as the deciding factor for people living below poverty line.

Shivanand Tiwari (JD-U), D Raja (CPI) and Satish Chandra Misra (BSP) voiced opposition to the criteria set by the plan body for deciding on people living below poverty line and termed it as a ploy to deceive the poor.

Planning Commission on Monday 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. "It is a serious matter," Ansari said asking members to either raise the issue by putting question to the concerned minister during Question Hour or during debate.

Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Rajiv Shukla said it can be raised during Budget debate beginning tomorrow. He offered to convey sentiments of the members to the Minister for Planning and Programme Implementation and request him to clarify position. Ansari then said, "It is a commitment. It is settled." The House then took up the listed questions.