Meal for Rs 12: hope it's not e-food, queries BJP.

Written by Press Trust of India | New Delhi | Updated: Jul 26 2013, 21:24pm hrs
BJP today charged the government with making a mockery of the poor with its latest figures stating that BPL population has decreased and said this has been done to cover less people under the Food Security Act.

"Central government has come out with new figures about people below the poverty line which brings out some new facts as well. It proves that the government defines poverty as per its whims and fancy. It increases the number of the poor or decreases it as and when it wants," BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi told reporters.

The Planning Commission had stated that the number of BPL population now stands at 21.9 per cent.

"The government does not have the funds that would be required to be spent on providing foodgrains when the Food Security Bill is passed so it is decreasing the number of poor," Joshi said, adding that by doing so the government would have to fend for less people under the Act.

He said that with the Centre maintaining there are very less number of people Below the Poverty Line the burden would fall on the state governments when the Food Bill is passed.

"By reducing the number of those below the poverty line the funds needed under the Food Security Act will be reduced," Joshi said, adding that the Centre will conveniently tell the state concerned that it has more people below the poverty line and hence it should bear the rest of the expenditure.

"We charge the government with making a mockery of the plight of the poor people and with misleading them," he said.

Joshi alleged that no scientific method has been adopted by the government in arriving at the new poverty figures and these are far from the truth.

"The government is playing a dangerous game of increasing the burden on the people. This seems to be part of a well thought-out plan," he said.

BJP also hit out at Congress for claiming that one can have a proper meal for Rs 12 in Mumbai and Rs 5 in Delhi.

"We will give Rs 12 to the Congress leaders and let them show us how they can have one meal with it," Joshi said, adding, "Hope it is not e-food"

The BJP leader maintained that a poor wage earner gets around Rs 20 per day and it would be impossible for him to spend Rs 24 per day for two meals. The quality of the food and whether it is subsidised and available to all at this rate are other factors to be borne in mind.

Referring to separate findings by committees headed by Naresh Chandra, Arjun Sengupta and Suresh Tendulkar, Joshi said the poverty figures are much higher that what are being claimed by the government.

He said the Naresh Chandra Committee had said the poverty figure should be "drastically revised upwards to 50 per cent though it should be 80 per cent". Arjun Sengupta committee had claimed 79.8 per cent were in BPL category.

Joshi said if calculations are made at the 2013 rates then more funds would be required for survival as cost of grains, transport, and so on has gone up.

The main Opposition also expressed concern over the falling Rupee and said its drastic fall is a big jolt to the economy.

BJP said it will raise this issue vociferously in the forthcoming Parliament session and demanded that government come out with a White Paper on the state of the economy.

He maintained that during Atal Bihari Vajpayee's government the foreign debt was USD 112 billion but stands at USD 390 billion today.

"The only solution government is thinking of is bringing more and more FDI," Joshi said, adding FDI is difficult to get if the economy is in a bad shape.

"I fear growth may get stuck at 4 per cent as the non- performing assets of this government are high at Rs 1.79 trillion which is going up every year," he said.