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Plan panel member bats for political decision

BS Reporter  |  Kolkata 

After the ruckus over poverty figures in Parliament, a Planning Commission member on Thursday said the number of poor in the country should be a political decision, not one taken at the bureaucratic level.

Speaking on the sidelines of a CII meeting, Arun Maira, member of the Planning Commission, said, “I believe the number of poor in the country should be decided politically. The definition of who is poor and who deserves to get assistance is ultimately a political decision. This will help in determining what assistance should be given, and to whom.”

The Plan panel had drawn the poverty line at Rs 28.65 in urban areas and Rs 22.43 in rural regions. The move invited flak from various corners, including Opposition parties. While alleging the government was making a joke of the issue, the Bharatiya Janata Party said, “The World Bank people are sitting in the commission, and they are unaware about the realities.”

Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav even demanded the removal of the commission’s deputy chairman, Montek Singh Ahluwalia, following which, the Plan panel is considering the possibility of constituting an expert group to re-evaluate its poverty numbers.

Maira said the Plan panel was in the process of reforming the nature of different schemes and the way numbers were treated. “I don’t think one poverty line is going to work. There should be many poverty lines, based on the deprivation of food, housing, sanitation and health,” he said.

On the increasing number of scams and the alleged coal scam to the tune of Rs 10.7 lakh crore, he said, “There is a trust deficit. There’s no point trying to denying it.”

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First Published: Fri, March 23 2012. 00:51 IST