The three-day Bihar visit of a team of the 15th Finance Commission, scheduled next week, has been postponed, evoking allegation from opposition parties that the tour was called off because of “political reasons”.
The commission team, headed by N K Singh, was scheduled to be in Bihar from July 10 to July 12. Although there was no official word here on the reason for the postponement, Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi said “there is still a year and a half left” for the 15th Finance Commission to visit states and collect inputs.
“There may have been preoccupations that have led to the tour being put off. We have time of one and half years…. so far, the 15th Finance Commission has visited only Kerala and Arunachal Pradesh. It has to tour all the states for collecting inputs. We can rest assured that Bihar visit will take place in due course and concerns of the state will then be duly addressed”, Sushil Modi told PTI.
The senior BJP leader, who also holds the Finance portfolio, had recently issued a statement that during the commission’s visit, the Bihar government would raise the demand for allocation of tax revenue shared by the states on the pattern of the 11th Finance Commission recommendations.
However, reacting to the development, RJD national vice president Shivanand Tiwary alleged “there are political reasons behind the postponement of the visit. The commission’s tour was to end on the day when BJP national president Amit Shah is scheduled to be in Patna”.
Tiwary said “The Commission was scheduled to interact with all political parties and various sections of the society. Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, a BJP ally, has been raising the demand for special category status which is one issue that all parties in the state support. Shah would have felt uneasy visiting the state amid such an atmosphere. Given his clout, we believe the tour was called off to make things easy for him”.
The RJD leader said “Bihar is paying the price for the ego clash between Nitish Kumar and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.”
Echoing the sentiments of the RJD leader, NCP general secretary Tariq Anwar said “there is a strong likelihood of the tour having been cancelled in view of Shah’s visit. This very unfortunate, though, as constitutional bodies ought to function independently and not under political pressure”.
Meanwhile, Kumar’s JD(U) came up with a guarded response, hoping that the commission’s visit will be “rescheduled at the earliest”.
“Whatever may have been the reason behind 15th Finance Commission’s postponement of visit, we hope the same will be rescheduled at the earliest. There are high expectations from the Commission in Bihar”, JD(U) spokesman Rajiv Ranjan Prasad said.