| Nitish Kumar at the news meet at 1 Aney Marg on Monday. Picture by Deepak Kumar |
Patna, Aug. 12: Chief minister Nitish Kumar today said he would not settle for anything less than the special category status to Bihar.
The statement comes ahead of the Raghuram Rajan-led committee submitting its report on the fresh criteria of defining backwardness of states to the Union government.
“We will intensify our campaign for the special category status if we failed to get it,” Nitish told reporters on the sidelines of his weekly janata durbar at 1 Aney Marg. He, however, added: “We will be extremely happy if the state is accorded the special category status.”
In its draft report, the Rajan-led panel is believed to have put Bihar at the bottom of almost all the indicators of development in what the experts believe as a strong indication for the state getting huge financial assistance from the Centre.
Still, it is hard to predict at the moment that the Centre would accept Nitish’s specific demand for the special status, given several other states, including Odisha, Chhattisgarh and Goa, clamouring for it.
The chief minister stuck to his guns though. “We are keeping a watch on what the special committee (headed by the chief economic adviser of the Union finance ministry) recommends and the decision that the Union government takes on it.”
Nitish refused to exude optimism at this juncture. “It is hard to tell anything until the special committee submits its report and the Centre decides on it. Telling anything ahead of the Centre taking a decision on the panel’s report will be premature,” Nitish said, adding: “There is sufficient ground for Bihar to get the special category status.”
The Rajan panel is likely to submit its report by the end of August.
Nitish, on the other hand, ruled out any immediate plan to expand his council of ministers when asked if his meeting with Governor D.Y. Patil yesterday had anything to do with the cabinet expansion.
“It was a courtesy call to the governor, who had returned to the Raj Bhavan from abroad. Nothing else,” he said.