Kottayam: The NITI Aayog's latest baseline report on 'National Multidimensional Poverty Index' (MPI) has kicked off a political debate in Kerala with the ruling party and the opposition laying claims to the best rating given for the state.
According to the MPI, Kerala has the lowest poverty rate of 0.71% in the country followed by Goa with 3.76% and Sikkim with 3.82%. Bihar is the poorest state in that regard with 51.91% of its population living in poverty.
The ruling LDF led by the CPM has endorsed the report promptly with Revenue Minister K Rajan stating it is the "outcome of Kerala government's willpower to ensure no one went hungry".
His colleagues in the state cabinet, Finance Minister KN Balagopal, Industries and Law Minister P Rajeev, and Minister for Welfare of SC/ST and Backward Classes, K Radhakrishnan among others were also quite vocal about it with elaborate social media posts crediting the LDF government's policies for the achievement.
Meanwhile, the main opposition, Congress has called their bluff by drawing attention to the timeline — 2015-16 — the report is based on and that coincides with UDF rule.
"It is a matter of pride that Kerala is behind in the poverty index prepared by the NITI Aayog. But the report is based on 2015-16," said former Leader of the Opposition, Ramesh Chennithala.
"This achievement reflects the good work done by the UDF-government led by Oommen Chandy. The UDF government's efforts to fill the minds and stomach of the public even during an economic crisis had drawn worldwide attention," noted Chennithala.
The senior Congress leader asked if that situation was similar today. He said that it was doubtful if Kerala would be able to hold its position when the 2020-21 result will be released.
K Sudhakaran, the president of the Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee, also reiterated his colleagues' words.