| Montek Singh Ahluwalia |
Patna, Feb. 4: Deputy chairman of the Planning Commission Montek Singh today said Bihar should be keen on getting more resources from the Centre than harping on special status.
Pouring water on the state’s hope of getting special status, he said: “The criteria for special status cannot be changed for Bihar.”
Ahluwalia said: “We cannot do anything about special status of any state. That is decided by the National Development Council.”
The statement comes as a setback to chief minister Nitish Kumar who has been trying to make the special status an electoral issue.
Union finance minister P. Chidambram had raised hope of Bihar getting the special status when he said the criteria for giving special status to a state needs to be revisited to accommodate economically backward states.
Ahluwalia, who enjoys an excellent relationship with Nitish, doused that hope today.
Incidentally, Ahluwalia was supposed to have dinner with the chief minister tonight. But it was cancelled because of Nitish’s illness. The chief minister even skipped his ritual janata durbar.
Though Ahluwalia doused the hope of Bihar getting the special status, he said the state would continue to get the special package. “We will go to the cabinet to extend it in the Twelfth Five-Year Plan,” he said, stressing that he had already spoken to the chief minister on the issue.
Nitish, besides demanding hike in the special package, has been consistent in demanding special status for Bihar. He even demanded a change in criteria for giving the status.
He declared that he would give support to any formation which gives special status to Bihar. In public meetings, he accused the Centre of being unfair to the state by not giving it the special status despite being a backward state.