Ahmedabad: Gujarat Finance Minister Nitin Patel on Tuesday sparked off a fresh controversy over poverty figures in the state. Bringing embarrassment to BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, Nitin Patel said that the poverty figures in the state has gone up because of the influx of immigrant labourers from Bihar, Odisha and Uttar Pradesh.
“People from all over the country come to Gujarat for employment. People come from Bihar, UP, Odisha and other states. When BPL families come to Gujarat they continue to enjoy the benefits accorded to BPL families. According to the Central government figures there are no BPL families in Gujarat. All salaries are above this amount,” said Nitin Patel.
The comments are likely to draw criticism from Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, who has been a vocal critic of Modi. The JD(U) broke up its alliance with the BJP in 2013 over Modi’s elevation.
Sensing an opportunity, the Congress hit out at the Modi government. “Whoa! So now Nitin Patel, finance minister Gujarat says that poverty increase in Gujarat dew to outsiders coming in state,” tweeted Congress General Secretary Ajay Maken.
The BJP and Congress are already at loggerheads over the BPL figures in Gujarat. The later has slammed Modi saying that he is doing contradictory actions claiming that the BJP criticised the Centre’s Rs 32 figure, but the party has identified the poor with much lower figures.
“Narendra Modi is doing contradictory actions. His own government now issues a figure of Rs 10.80 for poor in India. Modi government had criticised Rs 32 figure that we gave few months back,” Maken had said.
“Once Food Security Act comes into place then state governments (Gujarat government) cannot bring out a separate circular for identifying BPL people,” he added. The Congress also demanded an apology from Modi.
However, the Gujarat government has said that it has implemented the guidelines issued by the Centre in 2004 and no new guidelines have been issued for identification of BPL families. The state government has said that there are 21 lakh BPL families for which the Centre is providing ration at the subsidised rates.
“Centre’s BPL criteria are old and have not been modified. We are taking care of poor not identified in the BPL category and giving ration to additional 11 lakh families,” the Modi government had said.
The Planning Commission had said that a person can meet expenditure of ‘food, health and education’ with a sum of Rs 32 in the cities and Rs 26 in the villages.
Courtesy: IBN Live