Montek meets PM, to make statement tomorrow

New Delhi: Amid a raging controversy over the Rs 32 per capita per day poverty line definition, Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today and will clarify the panel`s stand on the issue on Monday.

The Planning Commission deputy chief, who returned from a 10-day foreign visit on Saturday, met the Prime Minister today for the first time since the controversy erupted after an affidavit filed by the Plan panel in the Supreme Court.

Ahluwalia is believed to have discussed the fall out of the controversy relating to the affidavit, which said that persons consuming items worth more than Rs 32 per day in urban areas and Rs 26 in rural areas are not poor, with the Prime Minister.

As per the affidavit, a family of five spending less than Rs 4,824 in urban areas will fall in the BPL category. The expenditure limit for a family in rural areas has been fixed at Rs 3,905.

The number of poor entitled to BPL benefits, as per the affidavit, has been estimated at 40.74 crore, as against 37.2 crore estimated at the time of accepting the Tendulkar Committee report.

Officials in the Planning Commission have said that providing benefits to more persons would defeat the purpose of the anti-poverty programme.

Congress General Secretary Rahul Gandhi is believed to have intervened in the matter and has reportedly asked the Plan panel to do a rethink on its definition of poverty.

Ahluwalia is also scheduled to meet Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh on Monday to discuss the issue.