Narendra Modi govt blaming migrants for poverty, alleges Congress

Written by Press Trust of India | New Delhi | Updated: Feb 5 2014, 02:50am hrs
Narendra ModiStepping up attack against Narendra Modi on BPL criteria issue, Congress today accused. Reuters
Stepping up attack against Narendra Modi on BPL criteria issue, Congress today accused his government of "blaming" migrants for rise in poverty in Gujarat and said it had exposed the real face of BJP which was speaking the "language of Shiv Sena".

The party's remarks came a day after a minister in Modi government said that poor people from other states who come to Gujarat are included in state's BPL list, when queried about rising number of people in below poverty line category.

"Finance Minister of Gujarat government Nitin Patel has justified the state's BPL criteria of people earning below Rs 10.80 a day and put the blame for rise in poverty to migrant workers coming to Gujarat from Uttar Pradesh West Bengal, Bihar, Odisha.

"They are blaming migrant workers for poverty, who actually work for Gujarat's development. This is the language of Shiv Sena and exposes Gujarat government's and BJP's real face. Rather than apologising, they are putting the blame on migrants," party spokesperson Shobha Oza told reporters here.

The issue of migrants has always been a sensitive one in a number of states and it now appears Congress will rake it up in a big way in its poll campaign.

BJP leader Patel had yesterday accused Congress and some other party leaders of levelling "baseless allegations" against the Gujarat government on the issue of identifying BPL families.

Replying to a questions about an increase in the number of poor people in Gujarat, Patel tried to justify it by saying, "If a BPL card holder's family migrates from other parts of the country to earn a living in Gujarat, he is included in the list. Apart from that, population is also increasing, due to which their number is increasing."

Latching on to the comments, Congress general secretary Shakeel Ahmad was taking potshots at the Gujarat government.

"Modi's govt says, poverty has increased in the last 10 yrs due to arrival of poor ppl from other states. Are poor ppl coming to Gujarat only," he said on twitter.

At the AICC briefing, Oza accused the Gujarat government of "ridiculing" the poor by identifying poverty line income as below Rs 10.80 a day.

BJP leader Patel had yesterday said that the state has no role to play in setting norms and has to follow the ones set by the Centre.

"The fact is that through a letter on January 12, 2004, the Planning Commission informed us that it had decided that Gujarat's poverty line is Rs 324 per month for rural areas and Rs 501 per month for urban areas," Patel had said, sharing a copy of the letter with reporters.

"From that time, we have been sending representations to the Centre to revise it. Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi also represented the case to the Prime Minister, but nothing has changed so far," he said.

At the AICC briefing, Oza also released a joint letter written by Deputy Chairman of Planning Commission and Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh on October 3, 2011 in which it was said the Government of India will take into account multiple dimensions of deprivation based on the idicators that are being collected through the Socio-Economic Caste Census.

And hence "the present poverty wise estimates using the Planning Commission methodology will not be used to impose any ceiling on the number of households to be included in different schemes".

Oza also slammed Gujart saying over 32 per cent of children in Gujarat are malnourished and the state ranks 19th on parameters of poverty.

Slamming the Gujarat government over the issue, Finance Minister P Chidambaram had yesterday recalled how BJP had made a hue and cry over the Planning Commission's poverty line of Rs 32 a day based on daily consumption.

"I can't imagine how they can put out a number like 11 and 19. I have to check whether these numbers are derived or derivable from the Planning Commission's numbers."

The Gujarat government, however, insisted that the data is based on criteria that the Centre has not modified in the past 10 years. Gujarat gives rations to an additional 11 lakh families through its own resources, a state government statement had said.