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Hindustan Times
New Delhi, July 26, 2013
Amid the slugfest over poverty level estimates, Congress on Friday distanced itself from controversial remarks made by party leaders Raj Babbar and Rasheed Masood on meals being available for Rs. 12 and Rs. 5.
"The party has disapproved of the Rs. 12 and Rs. 5 remarks," a senior party functionary speaking on the condition of anonymity said.

Downplaying the controversy surrounding BPL figures and Planning Commission report about reduction in poverty levels, the functionary said, "It should be kept in mind that after promulgation of the food ordinance, out of about 150 centrally sponsored schemes, now only one scheme of old age pension is linked to the below poverty line categorisation.

"Even that one scheme will be delinked from BPL by next year," the functionary said.

"Many centrally sponsored schemes, such as NREGA, ICDS, MDM, NRHM, SSA are universal whereas others such as IAY use a more complex formula....thus fixing of consumption at Rs. 27 and Rs. 33 for rural and urban areas have no bearing on government schemes," the Congress leader said.

He also attacked BJP for fuelling a controversy over the lower consumption limit and reminded that during the BJP led NDA regime in 2003, as per the NSSO's 59th round survey, the minimum consumption for poverty line in rural areas was Rs. 16.73 only.

At that time BJP was in power, hence BJP has no moral authority to question the UPA government on this issue, the source said.

While Congress spokesperson Babbar had commented that a hearty meal in Mumbai can be bought for Rs. 12, party leader Masood had claimed just Rs. 5 was sufficient for a meal in Delhi.