Row over BPL figures: A drought of ideas, a flood of antics

Written by: Kishore Trivedi
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Is the hot battle between the Centre and the Gujarat government over BPL figures due to the flawed attempt of the Congress to dig out ‘facts' to debunk Gujarat's growth? Evidence suggests so...

The '500 crore project' had a premature crash-landing when the Crown Prince appeared in front on Arnab Goswami, in what will be remembered as the 90 minutes of disaster! With their spin-doctors, media, social media (in that order) letting them down, the Grand Old Party has explored another option- to try and split hair and debunk Gujarat's development, as if the state has had a dry run of decay and stagnation in the past decade or so.

But, did a hurry to cover up for the revelations on Sonia Gandhi's interest in the VIP chopper deal produce an untidy result for the Congress and their spin-doctors?

The issue in concern is the controversy surrounding the poverty estimates in Gujarat. It emerged that the poverty estimates of the Gujarat government were significantly lower than the national average. Infact, Raj Babbar would be a very happy man to read that the Modi government ‘set the poverty figures' around the number he felt a poor person can have a meal but the hysteria turned out to be a damp squib!

The data that Ajay Maken shared pertained to income limits of 2001-02, not 2014

The Gujarat government was quick to reply that the poverty figures are not decided by the states but by the Centre, where the BJP has had no luck for the last 10 years. So, how can it decide on an issue where it neither has the mandate nor the legal authority? The data that Ajay Maken was very confidently sharing pertained to income limits for 2001-2002, which was a full 13 years before 2014! Additionally, the Gujarat government has added over a million people over and above this criterion to avail of benefits.

Ideally, the Centre should have revised its guidelines and communicated to the states but clearly that has not happened. On a larger level, it also raises questions on the brazen misuse of central bodies and data agencies to settle politics scores, clearly a very unhealthy trend.

A recent report in a leading daily brought to the fore something that many people have been fearing for a long time. In an apt and self-explanatory title, ‘Plan panel helps Congress to take on BJP', the report explains at length how the Planning Commission has emerged as an important link to demolish the ‘myth of development' in Gujarat. We heard of the CBI and IB being used to target opponents but this is a first and hopefully a last.

One only hopes the Congress spin-doctors are luckier next time. From the ballot box to the set-top box they have been extremely unlucky in matching Modi and this was no different! A sign of the times to come?

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