Bihar Fumes over the denial of Special Status

Bihar Chamber of Commerce (BCC) today expressed anguish and shock over the denial of special category status to the state by the Centre.

BCC president O P Shah said after the constitution of the inter-ministerial group to take a decision on the matter, people of the state have been hoping that the Centre would grant the status to Bihar and would frame special norms for the state at par with Uttranchal, Himachal Pradesh and North Eastern states.

“By denying the state its rightful claim, the Centre has once against exhibited its gross negligence to Bihar and the Centre has once against failed to fulfill the constitutional obligation of a federal government, which does not allow any discrimnation to any state of the country,” he alleged.

Shah said the people, the industry and trade of the state stands firmly behind Chief Minister Nitish Kumar in his effort to secure a special status to Bihar.

The group, headed by Planning Commission member Sudha Pillai, which was constituted to look into the state chief minister’s persistent demand has stated that Bihar did not fulfil the criteria to deserve the special status.

The report, which was submitted to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) earlier this week, has left  also left Bihar CM Nitish  Kumar angry and disappointed. “We will continue our fight for the special status to Bihar till our demand is fulfilled,” he said. “We will even take our fight to Delhi for our legitimate demand.”

Addressing a rally at Rosera in Samastipur district, over the course of his ongoing Sewa Yatra across the state, Nitish called upon the people to be ready to fight for the demand.

Demanding a review of the parameters set for according special status to the states, Nitish said it was not as though the people of hilly states alone faced hardships. He stated that Bihar had been facing severe drought as well as devastating floods every year for no fault of its own.

“Heavy rains in Nepal cause annual floods in Bihar, but the state cannot do anything about,” he said. “Every year we build infrastructure with great pains, but it is washed away by the recurring floods. It is an international issue and the Centre needs to talk to the Nepal government to solve the problem.”

The chief minister said that the Centre had always discriminated against Bihar, something that had impeded the state’s growth. “Special status will only help Bihar attract investors and promote industries in the state,” he said.

Nitish pointed out that Bihar was once the leading producer of sugar, but the industry had died because of the faulty policies of the Centre. “The Centre has also not given the coal linkages required to set up the power projects in the state,” he added.

Since taking over the reins of the state government in 2005, Nitish has been demanding a special status for Bihar, on the lines of hill states, to tide over its under-development, but to no avail. On April 24, 2006, both houses of the state legislature had unanimously passed a resolution in this regard.

On the eve of the results of the last general election in May 2009, when Nitish was widely expected to emerge as a ‘kingmaker’ at the Centre, he had announced that he would extend support to only those who would promise special status to Bihar. In July 2011, a memorandum in this regard, containing the signatures of 1.25 crore people, was submitted to the Prime Minister on behalf of Janata Dal-United.

The Prime Minister subsequently set up an inter-ministerial group to look into the demand. Last year, Nitish also raised the issue at the National Development Council meeting. But on Wednesday, the group submitted its report to the Prime Minister advising against special status for the state.

This is not the first time when the UPA government had overlooked Nitish’s vociferous demands. Earlier, the Centre had declined to announce any special package for the Kosi floods in 2008. In recent times, the Centre has refused to open the central university at Motihari as recommended by Nitish. It has instead selected Gaya for the purpose.