"You can eat well for Rs 5 in the Jama Masjid area of Delhi," Masood, a Rajya Sabha member from the Congress, told reporters. The comment has opened floodgates of criticism.

"The government is just trying to perpetuate poverty," Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) spokesperson Prakash Javadekar said.

"They are very happy to have a Rs 34 poverty line. While rolling down the benchmark, they are trying to roll people out of BPL (Below Poverty Line) category, depriving them of welfare benefits. This is an anti-poor statement," Javadekar said.

Senior BJP leader Meenakshi Lekhi said, "These are tactics of diverting attention from other issues. They are trying to reduce the number of poor."
Communist Party of India (CPI) leader Atul Anjan took a jibe at Babbar, saying he was reciting scripted dialogues.

"Raj Babbar is in a habit of reciting scripted dialogues. This script was written by Sonia Gandhi and Manmohan Singh," he said.

The Planning Commission Tuesday said poverty ratio in the country had declined to 21.9 percent in 2011-12 from 37.2 percent in 2004-05 on account of increase in per capita consumption.

Using the Tendulkar methodology, the commission estimated the national poverty line for rural areas at Rs 816 per capita per month and for urban areas at Rs 1,000 per capita per month for 2011-12.

This would mean that the people whose daily consumption of goods and services exceed Rs 33.33 in cities and Rs 27.20 in villages are not poor.

(Agencies)

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