New Delhi, March 18: Nitish Kumar today claimed to have received “clear hints” from the Prime Minister and the finance minister about a move towards granting special rights to Bihar, and then dropped a hint of his own.
The UPA government would “benefit” if it delivers before its term ends next year, the Bihar chief minister said.
Nitish met Manmohan Singh and P. Chidambaram separately a day after his show of strength in the heart of Delhi to press his demand for special-category status for Bihar.
“Both the Prime Minister and the finance minister heard me out patiently. Whatever they told me was, to my mind, a clear hint that they would take the matter forward,” he said after the half-hour talks with Singh at the Prime Minister’s Parliament office.
Nitish did not reveal what the two central leaders had told him but used the expression “clear hints” twice.
At his Adhikar Rally at the Ramlila Grounds yesterday, Nitish had indicated he would support anyone who granted special rights to Bihar, stirring speculation that the Janata Dal (United) might dump the BJP and tie-up with the Congress ahead of next year’s general election. His remarks today strengthened the perception.
“This government is in its last year. The timeframe thereby is automatically understood. The government should act without any delay. If they act, they will reap the benefits,” the chief minister said.
The remark came when he was asked whether he had set the Centre a timetable.
Nitish said it was up to the Centre how it would do the job: he was interested only in results and wanted them to come fast.
“Whether they form a committee or (whether) the finance ministry does it on its own is for them to decide,” he said.
Asked whether the process might pick up speed if he made his political position clear, the chief minister protested that no political meaning should be read in his engagement with the Centre.
“There is nothing political in it. It is only about development,” Nitish said with a twinkle. “If there is any politics, it is the politics of development.”
Asked who the NDA’s prime ministerial candidate could be, he sidestepped the question with: “These issues can come later.”
Nitish also met Planning Commission deputy chairperson Montek Singh Ahluwalia. He said they discussed the plan size for Bihar.
The chief minister claimed he was furthering the UPA’s “inclusive growth” programme by raising the case of backward regions.
“From inclusive growth, the government is talking about more inclusive growth. It will be achieved only if the backward regions catch up with the rest of the country,” he said.
After the meeting with the Prime Minister, an upbeat Nitish spent some time in Parliament’s Central Hall chatting with politicians.