| Jitan Ram Manjhi |
Patna, June 10: Narendra Modi’s pre-election promise of according special status to Bihar has put the chief minister in an advantageous position before submitting a memorandum to the Prime Minister.
“Our party’s demand for special status category to Bihar is well known. The Prime Minister also made statements to this effect during election campaigns across Bihar. His words now matter more than ours,” said chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi stressing that it would form a part of the memorandum.
Manjhi has sought an appointment from the Prime Minister’s Office to meet Modi and summit the memorandum containing Bihar’s wish list. But the PMO is yet to come up with a date. However, Manjhi expects the appointment to be given after the current Lok Sabha session that ends on June 12. The memorandum also contains demands for more funds, coal linkage for power projects and a solution to the monsoon devastation caused by rivers originating in Nepal.
Odisha has also demanded a special status category from the Modi government. Jharkhand is likely to follow suit. Unfortunately for these states, while Modi may have given assurances during election campaign, not a single word was uttered in the President’s address to the joint session of Parliament, which outlined the new Union government’s priorities in the next five years. Giving special status to any state does not appear to figure on its priority list.
Even the state BJP leadership, which taunted former chief minister Nitish Kumar for relying on the Congress for special status and stressed that it would give Bihar the status if Modi came to power, is now silent.
According to sources in the BJP, former deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi is likely to go to Delhi soon and meet Union ministers to take up issues specifically related to Bihar. He is, however, not likely to meet the Prime Minister as no appointment has been given.
According to the sources, Union telecommunication minister Ravi Shankar Prasad is likely to announce an IT hub in Patna. “However, if the state does not get major economical help from the Centre, it will be disappointing for not only to us but also the people of Bihar. After all, Bihar gave Modi 31 of the 40 Lok Sabha seats,” said a senior BJP leader.
Ever since the BJP-JDU alliance break-up last year a war of words between the two parties is going on. Nitish, even during the alliance era, made it a JDU demand rather than an NDA one from the Centre.
During the Hunkar Rally held at Gandhi Madian in October last year, the state BJP leaders submitted a memorandum to Modi which not only demanded special status but also an economic package of Rs 50,000 crore for completing pending central projects in Bihar, if Modi came to power. However, state BJP leaders seemed to have forgotten about it.