Congress leaders Raj Babbar and Rasheed Masood live in some mythical Indian city. Babbar has a full, wholesome meal for Rs. 12 and Masood eats for Rs. 5 there.
"People should have full meals two times a day. How one can have it is a very good question that you have asked. Even today in Mumbai city, I can have a full meal at Rs. 12," Babbar told reporters in Mumbai on Thursday.
Babbar, a Congress spokesperson, is also a Bollywood actor but he wasn't saying this for dramatic effect. He believes Rs. 12 buys one a nutritious meal.
"No, no, not bada paav. So much of rice, daal saambhar and with that some vegetables are also mixed," Babbar said.
Masood, Rajya Sabha MP from Uttar Pradesh, pulled the bar even lower. "You can eat a meal in Delhi in Rs. 5. I don’t know about Mumbai. You can get a meal for Rs. 5 near Jama Masjid,” Masood said on Thursday.
The two politicians were speaking after controversy erupted this week on how government calculates poverty data. The Planning Commission estimates that the number of poor in the country has gone down from nearly 37% of the population in 2004-05-the year the ruling UPA came to power - to 21.9% in 2011-12. In other words, an additional 137 million people in India now earn more than the threshold Rs. 27.2 a day in rural areas and Rs. 33.3 in cities.
Is that income enough to buy full two meals in a city? Our readers don't believe so. In an online poll we did, 58% believed that they would need above Rs. 100 to buy two full meals.
As many as 40% believed they would need between Rs. 50 to Rs. 100 for two meals. Just 2% believed they would need under Rs. 50. (The poll was unscientific and 1,820 readers had taken part in it till 8 am, Friday).
No wonder then that the two politicians got flak from the Opposition and public alike.Here is how people reacted on Twitter: