The Congress party on Monday sharpened its attack on Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi over the state's revised definition of Below Poverty Line (BPL) families saying that it mocks the poor and asked him to apologise to them for the insult.
All India Congress Committee communication department chairman Ajay Maken reminded Modi that his party had made a big issue after Planning Commission released the BPL figure of Rs. 32 and Rs. 28 a day in urban and rural areas.
"Leaders and spokespersons of the BJP were mocking the poverty determination figures given by the Planning Commission. Now we ask the BJP and Modi, why did the Gujarat government's civil supply department talk about below poverty line below Rs. 10.80."
He asked if pegging earning below Rs. 32 per day was a joke then how should the Modi government's figures be described.
He also released the criteria of the Gujarat government, from its official website, according to which families to be covered under the Antodaya Yojana in the state are chosen. He said it was posted on December 16 last year.
According to the site, families whose members' average monthly income is Rs. 324 in rural areas and up to Rs. 501 in urban areas in a month are covered under the scheme.
The website also said that while the government fixed the number of BPL families in the state at 13.10 lakh, the state has covered 24.30 lakh BPL families.
"So as to ensure that in addition to 13.1 lakh BPL families fixed by the government of India, remaining 11.2 lakh BPL families also get foodgrain of 35 kilogram per month, the state government allocates food grains on priority basis to such BPL families, which is made available under APL scheme," it said.
Maken, however, questioned the need for the circular when most of the central government schemes including food security have already been delinked from BPL and states can decide whom to include in the list of beneficiaries on the basis of household deficiency , social deficiency and economic and occupational deficiency.
"People of the country want to know. By giving this figure is the Modi-led BJP government not playing a joke with people? BJP and Modi both should apologise to the nation, to the poor for insulting and making a mockery of them," he said.
Maken also alleged that the BJP and its leaders were "misleading" the nation earlier over Planning Commission's poverty figures.
To a question as to whether he justifies the fixation of BPL at Rs. 32 in urban areas and Rs. 28 in rural areas, the AICC leader replied in the negative, saying "We are not defending Rs. 32 BPL criteria. The only point we are making is that if Rs. 32 criteria was a joke, then what should the Rs. 10.80 criteria be called."
Responding to another question regarding Rahul Gandhi's earlier directive to Congress chief ministers to ensure that fruits and vegetables are kept out of Agriculture Produce Marketing Committee (APMC) Act so that their prices are brought down, the Congress leader that most of the states have done it.
"The states in which this provision was put in have already amended their rules, while in some states, where these provisions are part of the Act will do it after amending the act during Budget session in their assemblies in February," he said.