The planning commission’s poverty line of Rs 32 per capita for urban areas and Rs 26 per capita for rural areas continues to draw strong criticism.
This time it was the turn of Congress MPs and office bearers to confront the panel’s deputy chairperson Montek Singh Ahluwalia on the issue.
At a presentation organised by the Rajiv Gandhi Institute for Contemporary Studies (RGICS) for Congress MPs and functionaries at Jawahar Bhavan on Tuesday, Ahluwalia faced some tough questions on poverty estimates and poverty alleviation programmes.
The central government allocates funds to state governments for the welfare of poor, based on the planning commission’s poverty line. Experts have, however, described the panel’s poverty line as too low and unrealistic as it fails to take into account the high inflation.
During the one-hour programme, Ahluwalia told Congress leaders that GDP growth, agricultural growth and the implementation of poverty alleviation schemes was better in the UPA tenure than the NDA regime.
According to a Congress MP who attended the briefing, Ahluwalia stressed the need to rein-in populist subsidy spending to fuel economic growth that had crashed to a nine-year low of 5.3% in January to March 2012.
“Our biggest problem is subsidy. Had I been in Parliament, I would have spoken against it,” Ahluwalia said.
This prompted an angry reactions from many Congress leaders. “Can we afford to abolish subsidy or our flagship welfare programmes,” asked an MP.