Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Bihar politicos reduce ‘Special State’ status demand to post-Budget ritual

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Time and again, political parties in Bihar have demanded a “special status” to their state, a drive which gains momentum around every Union Budget only to end up in a cold storage soon after. This year being no different, the budget presented by Finanace Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in Parliament was denounced by those seeking statehood.

After parting ways with the NDA, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has been vocal about the demand. Reacting to the general budget, Kumar termed it a “great disappointment” as once again their statehood demand has been ignored.

He said that inclusive development is not possible without the development of states like Bihar. Interestingly, when Kumar’s party was an ally in the Central government, it was not vocal about the issue.

Deputy Chief Minister Tejashwi Yadav said that the BJP government had been cheating Bihar ever since they assumed power at the Centre. BJP leader and former Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi questioned that why could the state not be given special status when Lalu Prasad and Nitish Kumar were powerful ministers at the Centre. He said that on Kumar’s initiative, the then Finance Minister P. Chidambaram had formed an inter-ministerial group on the issue and it was considered by the Raghuram Rajan Committee.

Both the group and the Committee had not accepted the demand. Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that the 14th and 15th Finance Commission reports have rejected the very concept of special status. It is apparent that politics takes place around the demand of special status in the state. The state is backward in terms of industrialisation and social and physical infrastructure. In view of this, political parties have been raising this demand for the last several years.

Nitish Kumar launched the signature campaign in May, 2010 under which signatures of about 1.25 crore Biharis were obtained and were handed over to the President regarding the demand. After this, on November 4, 2012, Kumar raised the issue by organising a rights rally at Gandhi Maidan. Describing the special status as the right of Bihar, he had demanded to include all the backward states in this category.

Kumar has recently been observed saying that he never gave up on the demand and had campaigned extensively for it. The CM said that the state is developing on its own strength and would have developed more swiftly if it was given special status. On Thursday, the Chief Minister said that they had been demanding special status since a long time, but were not being heard by the government. He said that the development of states leads to the country’s development.

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