Nitish links special status demand with politics of development



New Delhi: Linking his demand for special status to Bihar with "politics of development", Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Monday expressed confidence that the UPA government will make some move forward in this regard.

Kumar, who had yesterday addressed Adhikar rally in the national capital on the issue, today met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Finance Minister P Chidambaram and the Deputy Chairman of Planning Commission Montek Singh Ahluwalia over the demand.

"We are fully prepared. We are fighting the battle, which has now entered a decisive phase. Either the government will take a forward movement in this respect else, we will take a decision after that," Kumar told reporters outside Parliament after meeting the Prime Minister.

Asked whether he has set any time frame for the Centre to do it, Kumar, who heads BJP-JDU government in Bihar said," time frame is automatically fixed. How much time of this government is left...elections are due in 2014. The time frame is right now...immediately. If they do something in this period, they can get the benefit of it."

The Bihar Chief Minister said what he has gathered after meeting the Prime Minister and the Finance Minister that "they will make some move forward. If they move forward, its a matter of great happiness."

To a specific question on whether he feels that the promximity between Congress and JD-U will help achieve the goal of special status for Bihar soon, he said," this has no political meaning. This is clearly aimed at development."

"If any politics is involved in it, it is the politics of development. There is no politics of permutations and combinations. There is no politics of going here and there," he said."

The Chief Minister said that Bihar's demand should be seen in the context of the "right to development". "I told the Prime Minister that we, too, have a right to develop."

Kumar said that he discussed the issue of special status with the Prime Minister and the Finance Minister and that he has got indications from the talks that they will move forward in this direction.

"How they will move forward is up to them. Whether they will constitute a special committee or will do it themselves ... Whether they will constitute any separate committee or whether they will do it through a Committee of the Finance Ministry.

"I have left it to the Finance Minister... From what they have told me, it seems they will fulfill what they have promised," he said.

Kumar noted that the economic survey presented by the government talked about revisiting the criteria for special status to states.

The Finance Minister in his budget speech talked about changing the parameters for deciding the backwardness of a state, he said.

He said the Inter Ministerial Group constituted by the Prime Minister had rejected Bihar's demand for a special status on the ground that the state was not a hilly one and that it did not have sparse population, though it fulfilled three of the five criteria.

"The purpose of today's meeting was to urge the Centre to reconsider the issue. I have told the PM and the FM about it.

They have listened to me intently," he said adding that Bihar ranks lower than even those states, who were given the status of special category in many respects.

He said Bihar is lagging behind in the indices of human resource development and it is far below the national average in many aspects of development and hence qualifies for special status. "Centre should help those states, who fall below the national average in development indices come up the ladder," he said.

Alleging that his state has been "discriminated" against, the JD(U) leader had yesterday said, "We do not have to see either to the left or to the right. We have to look straight."

"The government in Delhi (Centre) should be such, which looks after our interests," he had added.

PTI