"If my statement has pained someone then I regret it. I don't want my statement to harm my party in any way," the Congress leaders said.

Earlier, the Congress had distanced itself from controversial remarks made by party leaders Raj Babbar and Rasheed Masood on meals being available for Rs 12 and Rs 5.

"The party has disapproved of the Rs 12 and Rs 5 remarks," a senior party functionary speaking on the condition of anonymity said. The development came amid Union Minister Farooq Abdullah’s remark that one can have a full meal for just Re 1. "If you want, you can fill your stomach in Re 1 or Rs 100, depending on what you want to eat," said Abdullah.

Political parties, cutting across the party line, have criticized the Congress for such remarks of its leaders. "The government is just trying to perpetuate poverty. 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," Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) spokesperson Prakash 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.

(JPN/Agencies)

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