Narendra Modi was today attacked by the Congress after the Gujarat government suggested that it was using Rs 10.80 a day as the limit to identify subsidy beneficiaries, drawing a sharp retort from BJP which claimed states were only following the criteria set out by the Centre.
Latching on to the BPL criteria of people earning below Rs 10.80 daily found on a Gujarat government website, Congress lashed out at BJP's Prime Ministerial candidate, asking him to apologise to the poor for "insulting" and making a "mockery" of them.
AICC Communication Department Chairman Ajay Maken also reminded Modi and his party that BJP had made a big issue of Planning Commission's Below Poverty Line (BPL) figure of Rs 32 and Rs 28 a day in urban and rural areas and had described it as a "joke".
He asked if pegging earning below Rs 32 per day is a joke then how can the Modi government fixing the BPL limit to Rs 10.80 be described.
He also released a copy of the website page of Gujarat government regarding the BPL critieria for consideration of families to be covered under the Antodaya Yojana in the state, which said that under the scheme those families, whose members' average monthly income is Rs 324 in rural areas and up to Rs 501 in urban areas in a month are covered.
The wesbsite also said that while the government fixed the number of BPL families in the state at 13.10 lakh, the state has covered 24.30 lakh BPL families.
"So as to ensure that in adddition to 13.1 lakh BPL families fixed by the Government of India, remaining 11.2 lakh BPL families also get foodgrain of 35 Kilogram per month, the state government allocates food grains on priority basis to such BPL families, which is made available under APL scheme," it said.
Hitting back at the Congress, BJP said this criteria was decided by the Centre in 2004 and states were instructed to follow it.
Asking Congress to "go back to the drawing room and do its homework", BJP spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman said deciding the BPL criteria was Centre's prerogative.
She said many reminders have been sent by the Gujarat government to the Centre asking it to review the criteria.
She said if one went by Centre's methodology of poverty, in Gujarat only 21 lakh BPL families would have benefited. But the Gujarat government had made sure that 11 lakh more families were added to the list of beneficiaries.