New Delhi: The war of words between the government and Opposition over poverty figures continues with more startling statements being made. After Congress spokesperson Raj Babbar's Rs 12 claim, now Union Minister Farooq Abdullah has courted controversy by saying that one can have a full meal for just Re 1 if desired.
"If you want, you can fill your stomach in Re 1 or Rs 100, depending on what you want to eat. We are working to change the life of the poor so they can eat well be healthy and India can progress," Farooq Abdullah said.
Congress leader Rasheed Masood has also said that it is possible for a person to buy a meal for Rs 5. "In Delhi you can get a whole meal for Rs 5, but I don't know about Mumbai. I myself spend less than Rs 5 on my meals." Masood said.
Earlier, Raj Babbar had claimed that it was easy to get a full meal for Rs 12 even in Mumbai. His comments had been slammed by the Opposition with BJP leader Varun Gandhi claiming that the only place where one can get a meal for Rs 12 is the Parliament canteen.
Mumbaikars have also slammed Babbar for his comment and said that the claim is not correct. "I pay Rs 50 for my meal every day," said a taxi driver. "We sell a complete meal for Rs 30. A vada pav costs Rs 12 these days. A meal used to cost Rs 12 twenty years back," said a food stall vendor.
The Shiv Sena has accused the Congress of mocking the poor. "In Mumbai, you can't even get a cup of tea or Vada Pav for Rs 12. The Congress is mocking the poor," said Sena leader Sanjay Raut.
In fact, the NCP too has disagreed with the Planning Commission figures. "Poverty has reduced in the country. But the baseline used by the Planning Commission is wrong. The Planning Commission must identify a new baseline based on the needs of the people,"
The raging debate started after the UPA claimed that India's poverty ratio declined to 21.9 per cent under its rule. The new poverty line pegs daily per capita consumption expenditure at less than Rs 33 in cities and Rs 27 rupees in villages.
BJP has rejected the Planning Commission figures. The BJP has accused the government of lowering the bar on the definition of poverty and misleading the people.
Delhi BJP President had even sent a money order of Rs 33 to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission Montek Singh Ahluwalia on Wednesday. He had challenged the trio to buy a meal for Rs 33 and said that the Congress has changed the definition of poverty ahead of polls.
He had said this was the BJP's way of protesting against Planning Commission's criteria that anybody whose consumption of goods and services exceed Rs 33 in cities per day was not poor.
(With additional information from PTI)