| Chief minister Nitish Kumar and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in New Delhi on Monday. (PTI) |
New Delhi, March 18: Nitish Kumar today said he received “clear hints” from the Prime Minister and the finance minister that the Centre would move towards giving special rights to Bihar and underlined that the UPA government would be “benefited” if it delivers before its term ends in 2014.
Nitish met the two leaders a day after his successful show of strength — Adhikar Rally — to press his demand for special rights to Bihar and returned more than happy by their response.
“Both the Prime Minister and the finance minister heard patiently. Whatever they told me to my mind was a clear hint they will take it forward,” Nitish said after his meeting with Singh in Parliament without shedding any light on what the two leaders had told him that had assured him they would deliver.
At his Sunday rally, the JD(U) boss had aired clear hints about keeping his support open for anyone who gives special rights to Bihar, putting the option open for going with the Congress. Today he sought to strengthen the perception.
“This government is in its last year (before the 2014 elections). The time frame thereby is automatically understood. The government should act without any delay… If they act then they will reap its benefits,” he said, virtually prodding the Congress to give something special to Bihar before the general elections and benefit, as his support was on the table.
Nitish said how the government would do it was up to it as he was interested in the results and underlined that they should come fast. “How they will do it? Whether they will form a committee or the finance ministry will do it on its own is for them to decide,” the chief minister said, adding that very little time was left for the government to deliver on its promise of revisiting the criteria for determining backwardness.
Nitish hurried to add that no political meaning should be read into his engagement with the central government, but given his suave style of politicking, the clarification hardly seemed convincing.
“There is nothing political in it. It is only and only about development,” Nitish remarked on asked that the process of granting spe- cial rights could get speeded up if he made his political positioning clear.
“If there is any politics then it is politics of development,” the master politician added in the same vein, with a wry smile on his face.
Nitish, however, walked out when questions regarding the prime ministerial candidate of the NDA was posed. “These issues can come later,” he remarked, sidestepping questions. Like his rally speech, he remained focussed on giving political signals using the issue of development.
He met the PM and the finance minister separately and also called on Planning Commission deputy chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia. He said that while his meeting with Ahluwalia was to discuss Bihar’s plan size, the other two meetings were to take ahead his special rights demand.
Nitish used the expression “clear indications” twice, just stopping short of putting it that the Prime Minister and finance minister had assured him they would consider the demand for special rights to Bihar. Seeking to be a supporter of the UPA’s “inclusive growth” slogan, he said he was actually furthering it by raising the case of backward regions of the country.
The chief minister looked to be in an upbeat mood after his around half-an-hour meeting with the Prime Minister in his Parliament office.