Banda (Uttar Pradesh), July 28 IANS | 2 years ago

Mocking at the Planning Commission's poverty figures, people of Uttar Pradesh's Bundelkhand region would give Congress leader Rahul Gandhi Rs.27 instead of a 'chatni-roti' meal if he comes here, NGO workers and villagers said here Sunday.

Gandhi visited Bundelkhand's Banda district in September 2009 and stayed overnight at the home of Bhagwat Prajapati in Nehri village who died due to poverty. He sympathised with Prajapati's family and ate 'chatni-roti' with them.

But village residents now said Gandhi would not be offered the poor man's food any more.

Prajapati's nephew Lala Prajapati said he did not expect Gandhi to visit their house again, but if he did then "I am going to give him Rs.27 so that he could fight hunger".

According to the Planning Commission, people whose daily consumption of goods and services exceed Rs.27.20 in villages and Rs.33.33 in cities are not poor.

Lala Prajapati, who is the head of the village, said: "The last time Gandhi spent the night with us, we spent Rs.23 on his 'chatni-roti', and that too wasn't a full meal."

Puswa Raidas, a hand cart puller from Banda city, said: "For my five-member family, we spend Rs.150-175 daily on rations."

"If people like me are to be considered well-off, then all Congress leaders' names should be enlisted in the below poverty line (BPL) or the Antodaya ration scheme," he said.

Shiv Kumar Mishra, an activist associated with NGOs Right to Food and Human Rights Law Network working in the region, said: "The Planning Commission's yardstick for determining poverty-stricken people in villages and cities is absurd."

"While setting this yardstick, the commission's officials seem to have ignored the money they themselves spend on their food," said Mishra.

Leaders from the Congress were not aware of the poverty in the Bundelkhand region despite Gandhi having spent a night with Prajapati's family, he added.

Another activist Suresh Raikwar said they would organise the poor in the region and give Rs.27 for a day's meal to each leader from the Congress or its allies who visit the area ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.

"Gandhi will be given Rs.27 a day, Raj Babbar Rs.12, Rasheed Masood Rs.5 and Farooq Abdullah Re.1, so that they can have a full meal in Bundelkhand," said Raikwar.

"We would protest if the administration officials try to arrange meals for them," he said.

Congress leader Rasheed Masood Thursday claimed that "one can eat well" for Rs.5 in the national capital, a day after Congress spokesperson Raj Babbar said that one can have a full meal for Rs.12 in Mumbai.

"You can eat well for Rs.5 in the Jama Masjid area of Delhi," Masood, a Rajya Sabha member from the Congress, told reporters here.

Minister for New and Renewable Energy Farooq Abdullah Friday said that one can have a full meal for Re.1.

"One can eat for Re.1, if desired. It depends on the common man how much they can afford and they have to manage in that only," Abdullah told reporters on the ongoing debate on poverty.

(Posted on 28-07-2013)