Planning Commission figures of poverty reduction in India triggered a furore Wednesday with the BJP and the CPI-M accusing the government of ignoring reality and Congress ally NCP also expressing its reservations.
The Congress, however, said that poverty had come down in the country due to the pro-poor policies of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government.
Bharatiya Janata Party spokesperson Prakash Javadekar said Planning Commission figures of poverty reduction were a conspiracy against the poor, designed to deprive them of welfare schemes.
"It is a despicable attempt to improve the governance record of UPA government closer to elections. The benchmark has been kept low to improve the report card," he said.
He asked the Congress to demonstrate how one can live on an income of Rs.34 a day.
The Planning Commission Tuesday showed that the percentage of people below poverty line declined sharply to 21.9 in the 2011-12 financial year from 37.2 recorded in 2004-05.
The national poverty line, by using the Tendulkar methodology, has been estimated at Rs.816 per capita per month in villages and Rs.1,000 per capita per month in cities.
This means that people whose daily consumption of goods and services exceed worth Rs.33.33 in cities and Rs.27.20 in villages did not fall in the poverty category.
Javadekar said the government should have waited for the report of the Rangarajan Committee, set up to review the Tendulkar Committee methodology for estimating poverty.
Nationalist Congress Party leader and union minister Praful Patel said his party disagreed with the Planning Commission's poverty ceiling. He said a new ceiling should be fixed based on present realities.
Communist Party of India-Marxist's Brinda Karat said the Planning Commission was using a discredited methodology to estimate poverty and it was "shameful".
Janata Dal-United leader Sharad Yadav also slammed the poverty data.
"We tour the entire country and know the real situation. On what basis has the government decided to give subsidised foodgrains to 67 percent of the country's population (if BPL population is 21.9 percent)," he asked.
Congress spokesperson Raj Babbar said poverty had fallen during UPA rule.
"The rate of poverty reduction during the seven years of UPA rule till 2011-12 was 2.18 percent against 0.74 percent during 1993-94 to 2003-04. This happened due to pro-poor policies of the government," he said.
He said the number of poor came down from 40 crore in the period before 2003-04 to 26 crore in 2011-12.