Patna, Aug. 10: Nitish Kumar can hope for a better deal from the Centre even before the first vote is cast in the general elections next year.
The Raghuram Rajan committee, at its last meeting today, is believed to have finalised the draft of determining the development index of states and pattern of devolution of resources to them in accordance with the new index, boosting chief minister Nitish’s aspirations to secure special category status to Bihar.
“The special committee has nearly completed the technical exercise to make the development index of the states and the pattern of devolving financial assistance in accordance with the index,” Asian Development Research Institute (ADRI) member-secretary Saibal Gupta, who is also a member among five others in the panel, told The Telegraph over phone from New Delhi.
The Centre had constituted the special committee headed by chief financial adviser of the Union finance ministry, Raghuram Rajan, to lay fresh criteria for determining the backwardness of states in response to the demand for the special category status to their states by the chief ministers of Bihar and other states, including Odisha, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh.
Asked when the panel would finally submit its recommendations, Gupta said: “The panel is likely to submit its report by August 23 or latest by end of the month. Rajan has to take over as the governor of Reserve Bank of India early next month. The committee headed by him will do its job well ahead of his departure for new assignment.”
Sources in the committee, however, revealed that it had been constituted on May 16 with the time frame only for two months. But it failed to complete the work by July 16 warranting upon the Centre to extend its tenure till August 16. Thus, the panel will complete its tenure on August 16.
The sources added that the committee had adopted 10 to 12 criteria, including per capita income and per capita expenditure to prepare the development index of the states.
A source privy to the panel revealed that the Centre might extend its tenure for a few days more, enabling it to submit its report on the politically sensitive issue. “The members have been asked to keep on updating their suggestions through email in the run-up to the submission of the report,” a source close to a panel member said, adding: “Technically, it was the last meeting. But Rajan might like the members to have another sitting ahead of submitting his final report to the ministry of finance.”
The Raghuram Rajan committee’s recommendations are likely to re-write the political contours of the country in general and Bihar in particular. Nitish, after ending his 17-year-old ally with the BJP, has clearly indicated to “reward” the Congress-led UPA dispensation in the event of the latter conceding his long-standing demand for the special category status to Bihar.
The Congress has also been giving clear signal that it was ready break the bread with Nitish whose party, the JD(U), has 20 MPs in the Lok Sabha. The JD(U) has already announced to support the Manmohan Singh government in the Lok Sabha on the tricky food security bill.