Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Tariq Anwar today urged Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar to bargain hard with the BJP-led NDA, which is in power at the Centre, for grant of special status to the state.
Distributing copies of a four-page letter addressed to the Chief Minister, Anwar asked Kumar to follow the example of his Andhra Pradesh counterpart Chandrababu Naidu and pull out of the NDA if the Narendra Modi government did not agree to give Bihar its due.
“The demand for special status for Bihar has been raised by Kumar himself ever since he became the Chief Minister in 2005. It is, indeed, a genuine demand as the state has been grappling with poverty and its ability to generate revenue took a beating after the carving out of Jharkhand, comprising the mineral-rich regions”, Anwar told reporters.
The NCP national general secretary, who is also the sitting MP from Katihar Lok Sabha seat in Bihar, said “today when the BJP is in power both at the Centre and in the state, he must seize the opportunity, play hardball and ensure that Bihar gets its due”.
Anwar alleged “the formula for disbursement of funds contained in the 14th Finance Commission has put Bihar at a disadvantage as its share has fallen from 10.9 per cent to 9.7 per cent. This has happened despite recommendations for greater central assistance by a committee headed by the then RBI governor Raghuram Rajan”.
“Kumar must put his clout with the current dispensation to good use by fighting for Bihar’s rights. If his pleas are ignored by the Centre, he must break his ties with the NDA like TDP chief Chandrababu Naidu did and carry forward his struggle for special status. If he fails to do so, his demand for special status will be seen as a mere political stunt”, the NCP leader said.
Naidu, who had been an NDA ally since 2014, pulled out of the coalition last month and gave notice of a no-confidence motion against the Narendra Modi government for its failure to heed the demand for a special status for Andhra Pradesh out of which a separate state of Telangana was carved four years ago.
Kumar, who had snapped his ties with the BJP in 2013, returned to the coalition headed by the party last year when he walked out of the Grand Alliance comprising the JD(U) – of which he is the national president – the RJD and the Congress.
The Grand Alliance came into being in 2015 when the JD(U) chief joined hands with his arch rival and RJD supremo Lalu Prasad. After the alliance won a handsome victory in the assembly polls, Prasad’s younger son Tejashwi Yadav was made the Deputy Chief Minister.
However, corruption scandals involving Yadav and his family prompted Kumar’s exit from the “Mahagathbandhan”.