Special status for Bihar in cold storage due to politics: Nitish Kumar
Patna – Nitish Kumar today accused the Centre of withholding the grant of special status to Bihar for ‘political reasons.’
“We had an economic basis (for special status) and even the finance minister had supported our demand. But nothing happened, so it seems the Centre has put it in cold storage because of political reasons and the kind of jealousy they and their allies have against the kind of support we got for this demand,” the Bihar Chief Minister said, indirectly referring to Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief Lalu Prasad Yadav, a loyal Congress ally.
His comments today contrasted sharply with his bonhomie with the Congress just three months ago, when both sides were seen to explore the possibility of an alliance for the 2014 national election.
In September, Mr Kumar had exulted in the Raghuram Rajan panel report released by Finance Minister P Chidambaram, which ranked Bihar among India’s least advanced states and strengthened its case for special assistance from the Centre. Since then, he complains, nothing has changed.
The Congress’ debacle in this month’s state elections seems to have led to a rethink within Mr Kumar’s Janata Dal United (JD-U) on a partnership with the Congress. The JD-U’s former ally BJP won three states and emerged as the largest party in Delhi. Nitish Kumar ended his party’s 17-year partnership with the BJP earlier this year over the elevation of Narendra Modi.
Nitish Kumar’s arch rival Lalu Prasad, who was released on bail from a Jharkhand jail last week, has indicated that he will renew his alliance with the Congress for the national election. (read: Lalu-Congress tie-up?)
The Congress in Bihar reportedly favours tying up with the RJD as the alliance had scored big in the 2004 Lok Sabha polls. Lalu Prasad, who was convicted in a fodder scam case in September, cannot contest next year’s polls due to a recent Supreme Court ruling, but will campaign for his party.