With the Andhra Pradesh ‘special status’ row taking centrestage, the clamour for ‘special staus’ is growing from Bihar too. Former Chief Minister and RJD chief Lalu Prasad blamed Chief Minister Nitish Kumar for compromising ‘special status’ issue for furthering his political career.
In a series of tweets, Lalu Prasad Yadav, who has been in jail for more than two months following his conviction in the fodder scam, launched a scathing attack on his friend-turned-political rival, Nitish Kumar.
Blaming Nitish for setting the interests of the state aside, Lalu tweeted, “In 2003, when Atal Bihari Vajpayee visited Patna, then Chief Minister of Bihar Rabri Debi had strongly presented the ‘special status’ case for the state. Vajpayee had almost agreed upon granting special status to Bihar because he knew the reality.”
“But when he was returning, Nitish Kumar barged into his car and on the way to the airport he (Nitish Kumar) said if you grant special status, our politics would be finished,” Lalu added in the second tweet.
It is important to mention that in 2003, while Nitish Kumar was part of the BJP-led NDA-I, RJD was at the helm in Bihar and Lalu’s wife Rabri Devi was the chief minister of the state.
Several JD(U) leaders underplayed the Lalu’s comment. A senior JD(U) leader downplayed the Lalu’s attack on Nitish Kumar saying, “it was not worth responding to.” However, he mentioned that Lalu should think about his special status in jail.
A close confidante of Nitish Kumar and JD(U) spokesperson Niraj Kumar said, “It is not a political agenda for us but a developmental agenda. WE had even ran a signature campaign in the past demanding the special status for the state. Almost one-and-a-half crore people signed the petition. What has Lalu done for achieving special status for Bihar when he was in the power?” questioned Niraj Kumar.
According to political analysts, the growing clamour for special status has to do more with party politics than public welfare in general.
Interestingly, the Constitution does not have any provision which will categorise any state in India as a Special Category Status (SCS) state. But, based on the backwardness and poverty in comparison to others, the centre can grant assistance to SCS states. Such status has been granted in the past by the erstwhile Planning Commission and National Development Council (NDC).
In the past, NDC granted this status based on a number of features such as—hilly and difficult terrain, low population density, presence of sizeable tribal population, strategic location along international borders, economic and infrastructural backwardness and non-viable nature of state finances.
Following the constitution of the NITI Aayog (after the dissolution of the Planning Commission) and the recommendations of the 14th Finance Commission (FFC), Central plan assistance to SCS states has been increased from 32% in the 13th FC recommendations to 42%