Nitish Kumar, Sushil Modi cross swords in Assembly over funds, toilets

 Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi on Tuesday locked horns in the Legislative Council over recommendations of the 14th Finance Commission on devolution of tax revenue and how the target of building toilets will be met.

PTI| Updated: Mar 29, 2016, 23:26 PM IST

Patna: Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi on Tuesday locked horns in the Legislative Council over recommendations of the 14th Finance Commission on devolution of tax revenue and how the target of building toilets will be met.

During PHED Minister Krishna Nandan Verma's reply to BJPs'Krishna Kumar Singh on how the state will construct toilets in each house over the next five years when it was building only 1.5 lakh to two lakh toilets every year, Kumar intervened and assured the Council that the target will be completed in a time-frame under the 'Saat Nischay'.

The 'Saat Nischay' (seven resolves) scheme aims at making younger generation self-reliant through education, skill development, education loan, electricity connection to all villages, providing piped water supply to every household, road and drainage in urban areas.

As soon as Kumar made this promise, Leader of the Opposition Sushil Kumar Modi rose and asked him how the state government will meet the target of constructing 35 lakh toilets each year over the next five years when it does not have required financial resources nor infrastructure to do so.

Describing the toilet construction target as 'next to impossible', Modi had a dig at Kumar saying one cannot fulfill commitment merely by making assurance.

On the recommendations of 14th Finance Commission, Modi reminded Kumar that he had sought reduction in the Centre's share in Centrally sponsored schemes (CSS) in National Development Council meetings during the UPA rule which had set up 14th Finance Commission to review devolution of tax revenue between the Centre and the states.

The senior BJP leader said the central government has heard his plea for hike in untied funds and Bihar got Rs 14,000 crore more in 2015-16.

Modi dared Kumar for a debate with him on the issue.

Reverting to toilet construction, he charged the Chief Minister with not giving a pointed reply as to how the state government will construct 1.5 crore toilets in five years.

"I appeal to you (Kumar) again that you stop cheating the people and misleading them," Modi said.

Kumar countered Modi by saying that the toilet construction target will not be achieved, come what may.

He denied that he had ever advocated for reduction in the Centre's share in implementation of CSS in the states and pitched for hike in the untied funds. 

On Modi's contention that the Centre was giving more to Bihar under other heads than what it was reducing in the CSS, Kumar said he was open to a debate with Modi on the Centre giving more funds to the state under PMGSY.

Observing that the Centre was not doing any favour to Bihar by giving more funds for road construction, he charged Modi with speaking against the interests of the state.

Modi then said he too held the view that the Centre was not doing any favour to Bihar and wanted that the state get more than its due share for development.

With the heated exchange between Kumar and Modi going on for 18-20 minutes, Council Chairperson Awadesh Narayan Singh intervened to bring the duel to an end.