The Telegraph
Saturday , November 16 , 2013
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Unity for the sake of Bihar

Patna, Nov. 15: The bitter exchange of words between the JD(U) and the BJP could see a temporary truce tomorrow with the parties expected to share a common platform for the sake of Bihar’s economic prosperity.

The platform has been prepared by the Asian Development Research Institute (Adri) that has brought all leading parties together twice in the past to submit memoranda to the Twelfth and Thirteenth Finance Commissions.

“All parties, including the JD(U), BJP, RJD, Congress and those from the Left, besides professional, trading and industrial groups, have agreed to participate in the meeting tomorrow to prepare a common memorandum to be submitted to the Fourteenth Finance Commission (2015-2020),” Adri’s member-secretary Shaibal Gupta told The Telegraph.

However, sources said Nitish, who is scheduled to be in Khagaria and Bhagalpur tomorrow, could depute one of his senior colleagues to attend the Adri meet, which begins at 2pm. Sources in the Congress and the BJP confirmed receiving the Adri invite and said they would attend the meet.

Gupta said the chief minister, who has been “extremely supportive” of the idea from the very outset, would attend the meet. “The chief minister who was signatory to the common memorandum to the Thirteenth Finance Commission will attend it,” he said.

If Gupta succeeds in his venture, he will offer what the political class and also economists describe as a “creative and constructive” approach to show unity for the cause of the state at a time when parties are locked in a vicious battle in the run-up to the Lok Sabha elections.

“It will be like blowing fresh air into the vitiated atmosphere,” said a senior Adri researcher, who declined to be named.

“We have no objection in attending any such meet that aims at betterment and economic well-being of the state. Like in the past, we will attend the Adri meet to give our inputs for preparation of the joint memorandum to be submitted to the Fourteenth Finance Commission,” state RJD chief Ramchandra Purbe said.

Nitish, RJD boss Lalu Prasad, then state Congress chief Anil Sharma, CPI state secretary U.N. Mishra and the BJP’s Vinod Narayan Jha had attended the meets for signing the common memorandum submitted to the 12th and 13th Finance Commissions. “I am extremely hopeful that all political parties would bury the hatchet and join the exercise tomorrow with business groups and professional organisations,” Adri’s Gupta said.

Thanks to the Adri’s initiative, Bihar is believed to be the only state where such a common memorandum is submitted to the Finance Commission apart from the one that the government of the day submits as a “matter of constitutional custom”.

According to constitutional stipulations, the Finance Commission reviews the transfer of shares in the taxes to the states every five years and makes recommendations accordingly. The submission of the joint memorandum from Bihar paid off with the Twelfth Finance Commission recommending a hike in the share of the state in the divisible pool of taxes to 30.5 per cent from the previous 29.5 per cent.

The commission also raised the indicative limit of the overall limit of the transfers out of the gross revenue receipts of the Centre from 37.5 per cent to 38 per cent. “We shall strive for the commission to recommend a substantial raise in the grants-in-aid to the state this time apart from the raise under other stipulated heads,” Gupta said.