As Raj Babbar regrets 'meal at Rs 12' remark, Congress washes hands off row

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SummaryThe party also downplays controversy surrounding BPL figures and PlanCom report on poverty.

After stirring a major nationwide controversy, Congress spokesman Raj Babbar has expressed regret for his remarks that one can have hearty meal in Rs 12 in Mumbai and his party today pleaded that the matter should now be allowed to rest.

Related: Farooq ridiculed for rupee one meal comment

Babbar's regret came after the Congress distanced itself from his remarks as also those of another party colleague Rashid Masood that meals could be had for Rs 5 in Delhi.

Related: Full Mumbai meal at Rs 12, says Raj Babbar

"He (Babbar) has issued a categorical statement expressing regret. So we should leave the matter there," Congress spokesperson Renuka Chowdhury told a press conference here.

While seeking to downplay the issue, she said she was not aware in what context Babbar had made the remarks.

To repeated questions on the matter, she replied that she had no authority to condemn Babbar's statement.

Poverty: Read full report

But she referred to the statement issued by Congress' Communication Department in-charge Ajay Maken who said, "We do not agree with meals at Rs 12 and Rs 5 statement of some leaders."

The meal remarks made by Babbar earned widespread ridicule with parties dubbing these as "absurd", "foolish" and "illogical".

Related: Rs 33 spend by citizens axes poverty to 21.9%

Maken, at the same time, attacked BJP for criticizing the Rs 33.30 Poverty Line figures of the Planning Commission, saying the opposition party, "should explain why it was Rs 16.73 in 59th NSSO survey of 2003 and accepted by BJP/NDA Govt?".

"Unlike the BJP NDA, we have de-linked this poverty line from all 150 Central Govt schemes including NREGA, ICDS, MDM, NRHM, SSA, PDS except 1.

"NSSO survey-1993-94 to 2004-05 the average decline in poverty was 0.74%/year. During UPA it accelerated three times to 2.18% pts per year," Maken said on twitter.

He instead claimed that during Congress-led UPA, poverty has declined from 37.2 per cent in 2004-5 to 21.9 per cent...a decline from 40.71 crore to 26.93 crore people below the poverty line.

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