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Nitish harps on strength in Delhi

- CM dig at one who celebrates bail as if out after ‘freedom struggle’ & another who has a ‘magic wand’

New Delhi, Dec. 23: Taking a dig at the celebrations over arch rival Lalu Prasad’s release from a Ranchi jail last week, Nitish Kumar today said it was being “hyped” as if he had been released after days in judicial custody for “contribution to the freedom movement”.

“Bihar has some special characters. One of them is celebrating around after getting out of jail as if he was behind bars for a great national cause like the freedom struggle. Some others are busy looking towards the west (read Gujarat) for the great messiah to arise without realising that the Sun sets in that direction, never comes up from there,” said Nitish, also targeting his erstwhile partner, the BJP, for clamouring behind its prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi.

The Bihar chief minister was addressing a conference “Bihar Kal, Aaj aur Kal — Governance at the Grassroots: A Model for India”, organised by industry body Assocham in New Delhi today.

Nitish did not mince words in saying that the Congress, which had earlier shown a positive attitude towards declaring Bihar a special state, had now put the issue on the backburner due to the upcoming general election.

“Their (UPA government at the Centre) priorities have changed now. It looked for a while that the Centre was serious about granting us special status and they also took some initiatives. But now it’s obvious that they have developed cold feet. The issue has been pushed in the cold storage as elections are round the corner. But we are not going to change our priority. We will go public with the issue during the upcoming election and tell them how we are being denied a genuine right,” said Nitish.

He was least forgiving of Gujarat chief minister Modi. “Somebody is busy selling dreams to people as if he has a magic wand that will solve all the problems in this country. But people understand that the country can grow only if all its states grow and develop equally,” Nitish said.

An open invitation to industrialists was also rolled out with a promise that in Bihar, they will only need to “invest” in their units and projects, rather than paying bribes in government offices or extortion to criminals.

Nitish indicated that he would play on his strengths that includes his government’s achievements in education, health and basic infrastructure when campaigning for the Lok Sabha elections.

“For us, the model of development is an election issue. So are the social indicators like education, health and basic infrastructure. All these constitute the primary theme of our campaign,” he said.

Meanwhile, in its report titled “Securing Sustainable Growth for Bihar”, Assocham hailed the progress made in eight years of Nitish rule, saying his government had scripted a “turnaround story”.

“During the 11th plan period, Bihar recorded one of the highest average GSDP (Gross State Domestic Product) growth rates among all Indian States of 11.95 per cent followed by 14.48 per cent GSDP growth in 2012-13. This metamorphosis of Bihar illustrates the importance of seemingly small changes that can yield stupendous results. The state government’s inclusive stance and improvements in policy framework and implementation has improved the overall economic profile of the state to the extent that its growth model is worth emulating,” noted the Assocham report.

The industry association also vowed to support the state in its initiatives in industrial growth, agriculture, manufacturing and tourism with special emphasis on the Buddhist circuit.