Congress slams household expenditure survey


Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge demanded that a census be conducted soon for accurate information…reports Asian Lite News

The Congress on Tuesday dubbed a recently released household expenditure survey report as an “election-inspired” and “narrative-setting” document, as it accused the BJP-led Centre of “destroying the credibility” of economic data.

The opposition party’s reaction came after the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO), functioning under the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, released data on household consumption expenditure for 2022-23 on Saturday.

NITI Aayog CEO B V R Subrahmanyam on Sunday said the latest consumer expenditure survey indicates that poverty has come down to 5 per cent in the country and people are becoming prosperous both in rural and urban areas.

Targeting the Centre for releasing the “election-inspired” Household Consumption Expenditure Survey after “10 years of deep sleep”, Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge demanded that a census be conducted soon for accurate information, insisting it should also incorporate the results of a caste survey.

In a post in Hindi on ‘X’, Kharge said, “The Modi government has made an unsuccessful attempt to pat itself on the back in the survey.” “We have only one demand, for correct information, the Census of 2021 should be done as soon as possible and a caste census should be a part of it. The Congress party will definitely get it done as soon as its government is formed,” the Congress chief added.

Kharge said if everything in the country was so shiny as is shown in the Household Consumption Expenditure Survey report, why the poorest 5 per cent of rural India was spending only Rs 46 daily.

“Why did the poorest five per cent of families get the least benefit from government schemes – only Rs 68/month? Did the capitalist friends get the remaining benefits? “Why is the monthly income of farmers less than the average income of rural India? Why has the fuel expenditure of rural families reduced by only 1.5 per cent while the Modi government continues to boast of the success of the Ujjwala scheme,” the Congress leader asked.

“Citing the survey report, NITI Aayog officials are saying poverty in India is now only five per cent, but according to another report of the Multi-Dimensional Poverty Index of the same NITI Aayog, the poverty figure is 11.28 per cent,” Kharge said.

Noting that both the surveys are for 2022-23, he asked why the Modi government was making fun of the poor. “Modi ji, please do not lower the reputation of India’s universally recognised data collection and surveys…,” he added.

According to Kharge, experts say that the government can change the criteria for measuring food inflation data from this survey. “Is this not an attempt to hide back-breaking inflation with fake data,” he asked.

“Is it not true that the Modi government admitted in a PIB press release that the Advisory Committee – National Accounts Statistics rejected its suggestion of changing the base year of GDP to 2017-18 and why so,” Kharge further said.

“Did the Modi government want to take electoral advantage of the GDP Base Year and hide the real facts,” he added.

Kharge claimed that the surprising thing is that the nomination of this Household Consumption Expenditure Survey should have been the 69th Round or the 70th Round, but which round is this survey named after, that has deliberately been kept ambiguous.

This has been done so that manipulation of data goes undetected, he claimed.

At a press conference at the AICC headquarters here, Congress spokesperson Supriya Shrinate said the government has come out with yet another “narrative-setting” report to claim that India’s poverty has been reduced to five per cent, which essentially means that only seven crore Indians are poor now and everybody else is either middle-class or rich.

“But the devil lies in the details. Even if we were to listen to this report, which has come after a gap of 11 years, remember that in 2017-18, this report on consumption expenditure was cancelled by the government primarily because consumption has dipped to a four-decade low because of demonetisation and a flawed GST,” she said.

“This report tells you a very unsettling truth… the divide between the rich and the poor, between urban and rural India is widening with the passage of every minute,” Shrinate claimed.

The biggest headline of this report is that the poorest 5 per cent of Indians have to live with Rs 46 a day and with that, they have to spend on food, transport, clothing, medicine and on education of their children.

“How do you explain this income equality against which the Congress has been raising its voice? It is a ticking time bomb,” Shrinate added.

“Data proves your (government) claims as bogus. If seven crore Indians are poor, why are you forced to give over 80 crore Indians free rations,” she asked.

“Why is the Modi government destroying the credibility of our economic data consistently,” the Congress leader asked.

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