New Delhi: Days after the DMK pulled out of the Congress-led ruling coalition at the Centre and with the Samajwadi Party posing a similar threat, the Congress government is now looking to rebuild its strained ties with old allies and find new ones.
Reports, Tuesday, claimed the Congress government is now mulling to accept the demand made by Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar for granting special status to his state.
Besides, the government is also reportedly mulling to give a second chance to Trinamool Congress chief and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.
Though the Congress leadership has dismissed Mulayam Singh Yadav’s view on coalition politics, it is aware of the efforts being made by the SP leader to revive the Third Front in order to provide a better alternative to people ahead of the next General Elections in 2014.
The SP chief is also believed to be harbouring ambition to become Prime Minister in the event of Congress and BJP failing to win a large number of seats in the 2014 elections.
In view of the above circumstances, both Nitish and Mamata appear to be the best option for the Congress party and can save it from any possible crisis in the event of SP withdrawing its support to the UPA government.
The Congress central leadership is of the opinion that by mending ties with Mamata and accepting the demands of Nitish Kumar, the party can easily counter the threats posed to its government by the SP and the DMK.
If the government sources are to be believed the Centre is soon expected to review backward criteria for states.
Nitish Kumar recently held a massive ‘Adhikar Rally’ in Delhi to press for his demand.
If the Centre decides to review and change the criteria of backward states then Bihar, parts of Rajasthan, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand will also come under the new parameter.
Besides accepting Nitish Kumar`s demand to give special status to Bihar, the Centre may also consider giving sops for West Bengal.
The government recently indicated that the existing criteria of ackwardness like `Hilly State` is now obsolete. The new criteria will take socio-economic factors into account.
In addition to all this, the Finance Commission may give relief to debt-ridden states. The Finance Commission award may provide relief for Mamata Banerjee as West Bengal reels under a huge debt.
"We have decided to change the criteria (for backwardness), and it will be done so in the coming months," a senior government official was quoted as saying.
The decision, indicated by Finance Minister P Chidambaram in his Budget speech, will take on huge political significance because of the Bihar CM`s relentless advocacy for a new yardstick for judging backwardness of states and his preparedness to pledge support to whoever meets his demand.
The development would be significant at a time when the Manmohan Singh government is dealing with reduced numbers in Lok Sabha after the departure of 19 MPs of Dravida Munnetra Kazhagham and its one-MP ally VCK. Janata Dal (U)`s 20 MPs can prove very handy to the government.