Bhopal: Launching a scathing attack on the Planning Commission for its controversial definition of poverty, the BJP has said the Centre has underestimated the number of people living below poverty line.

"The poverty figure is a conspiracy to exclude a large number of poor people from the ambit of BPL category. We will not accept it," Madhya Pradesh BJP chief Prabhat Jha said.

Jha said that the figures of Rs 32 per day income in urban areas and Rs 26 per day in rural areas as defining lines for poverty (the figures were revised downwards last week) is it a ‘cruel joke’ on the people of the country,.

According to Central government’s data, in Madhya Pradesh, there are only 42 lakh BPL citizens whereas more than 76 lakh people are living below the poverty line.

"It is an attempt by the Centre to deprive a large number of poor people from getting benefits they are entitled to under various welfare schemes. We will not tolerate it," the BJP leader said.

The party will launch a nationwide agitation to expose "the ulterior motive" of the Congress-led UPA Government behind this move, Jha asserted.

"The final contours of the protest against the recently announced figures for defining poverty will be put before the party's State Executive meeting to be held at Orchha on April 7-8," he said.

Jha said the plan panel was being used as a tool by the Centre to deprive BPL citizens from certain facilities they are getting at present.

The panel last week released data to show that poverty had significantly declined between 2004-05 and 2009-10 after it lowered the income criteria for defining poor from the previous Rs 32 per day mark to Rs 29.