New Delhi: Planning Commission on Tuesday faced criticism inside and outside the Parliament for its description of poor and resultant fall in people below the poverty line with the Opposition parties saying it was making a "dishonest" attempt to conceal reality through "fraudulent" estimates.
BJP hit out at the government and the Planning panel for the conclusion that the number of people living below the poverty line has fallen by seven percent, alleging that the Manmohan Singh administration appeared to be setting a "starvation line".

The Planning Commission had on Monday 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.

"I don't know which line they are drawing. Whether it is the starvation line or the poverty line. It is beyond the imagination of the Prime Minister and the Planning Commission to know how a person can survive on such a low income," Deputy Leader of BJP in Rajya Sabha S S Ahluwalia told reporters.

BJP maintained that for a person to live a life of dignity and to meet his needs of clothing, food, medical facilities and the like, the amount of Rs 29 is too less.

Asserting that the Planning Commission’s poverty estimates was a "dishonest attempt" to conceal the reality of glaring inequalities and increasing poverty in India, CPI(M) asked the Prime Minister to shun these figures and urged him not to use these "fraudulent" estimates to deny poor people of their right to BPL cards.

In a statement, CPI(M) said even the recently released Household Amenities and Assets Census of 2011 shows the extent of poverty in different spheres in India but the Planning Commission has set an "absurdly low" national poverty line of Rs. 22.40 per day for an adult in rural areas and Rs. 28.65 per day for an adult in urban areas in 2009-10.

"Anyone spending more that this is being categorised as non-poor. On the basis of these flawed figures, the Planning Commission claims that the proportion of BPL persons has gone down by 7 percent between 2004-05 to 2009-10," the party said.

"The CPI (M) demands that the Prime Minister should make a categorical statement that these fraudulent poverty measures will not be used to deny poor people of their right to BPL cards or be used as a benchmark for allocating funds to the states or for welfare programmes," it said.
Condemning the efforts of the Planning Commission to use "fraudulent methods to deliberately underestimate" the level of poverty in the country, the CPI(M) said in spite of the national outrage when the Planning Commission had given its earlier estimates to the Supreme Court, it has retained the same poverty measure suggested by the Tendulkar Committee.
Opposition parties raised the issue in Rajya Sabha dubbing it as a ploy to deceive the poor.
Soon after the House met for the day, members from BJP, JD-U, BSP, AIADMK and the Left parties were on their feet seeking a discussion on the issue.
Shivanand Tiwari (JD-U), D Raja (CPI) and Satish Chandra Misra (BSP) voiced opposition to the criteria set by the plan body for deciding on people living below poverty line and termed it as a ploy to deceive the poor.