Slamming the government's poverty fixation criteria as a "cruel joke" on the poor, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Friday said poverty should not be measured in terms of calories and money but on the basis of right to live with dignity.
"We do not agree with the criteria fixed for poverty... poverty should not be decided in terms of calories and money to purchase food but on the basis of the right to live respectfully," Kumar told reporters in Assembly premises.
The senior JD(U) leader termed as "cruel joke" the latest poverty figures that put anyone earning more than Rs 32 a day in urban areas and Rs 27 per day in rural areas above poverty line.
On Congress leader Rashid Masood's assertion that one can have food in Jama Masjid area in Rs 5 and Raj Babbar saying one can have proper meal for Rs 12 in Mumbai, Kumar said these are "hilarious" examples.
"In Delhi, people get free food in langar (community kitchens) in gurudwaras and there is no need to spend any money on food there. Can we say food is served free," he said.
The Bihar chief minister disagreed with the estimate that the number of people living below the poverty line has shrunk to 21.9 per cent in 2011-12 from 37.2 per cent in 2004-05.
"In Bihar, the number of poor is much more than this estimate," he said.
Kumar said his government had organised an international meet on poverty here in 2008 which had issued a 'Patna declaration' emphasising right to live with dignity should be the criteria for estimation of poor.
A copy of the declaration was sent to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh also, he said.