In message to BJP, Nitish Kumar rakes up special category status for Bihar

By raking up the special category status, Nitish Kumar has signalled that the JD (U) was keeping its gun powder dry for leveraging the issue during assembly elections next year.

Bihar chief minister and Janata Dal (United) president Nitish Kumar on Tuesday said that the special category status for the state remains a ‘key concern’ and the party is ‘committed’ to pursue the matter despite the Centre declaring it a closed chapter on the basis of 14th Finance Commission recommendations.

“It has remained an important agenda for us, since 2006. The demand has been unanimously endorsed by both houses of the state legislature. Over one crore people have signed in support. The demand has been raised strongly and in a logical manner before the 15th Finance Commission. We have a clear view that a state like Bihar has a fit case,” Kumar said shortly before leaving for Delhi to attend a meeting of NDA leaders ahead of parliamentary poll results.

By raking up the matter, Kumar has signalled that the JD (U) was keeping its gun powder dry for leveraging the issue during assembly elections slated for next year.

Bashistha Narain Singh, president of the Bihar unit of the JD(U) had raised the issue on Monday saying “ensuring special category state status for Bihar will remain the main agenda for JD (U) during ensuing assembly elections. The party will strive for getting necessary amendments for facilitating it.”

Kumar had walked out of Grand Alliance in 2017 on the issue of corruption and had rejoined the BJP in the “interest of the state”. Questions were raised then, whether the wily politician had been able to extract a promise or a commitment from the BJP leadership on the subject or not.

The special status category has become relevant once again after the JD (U) prevailed in extracting equal seat share (17-17) from the BJP despite having only two MPs in 16th Lok Sabha.

Nitish Kumar indicated that his party may be part of the Union government this time. “Whatever may be the outcome of exit poll, we were optimistic of the return of Narendra Modi government. And it is a given that allies will be part of the NDA government,” he said.

“Pre-poll alliance partners are likely to discuss issues during the meeting,” the chief minister said. He also quelled apprehension of a possible confrontation between the JD(U) and the BJP over their divergent stance on Article 370, Uniform Civil Code and Ayodhya Temple.

“There is no contradiction. Our stand is clear, ever since we entered into an alliance in 1999. We stick to our stand that Article 370 need not be scrapped or Uniform Civil Code be foisted. Similarly, Ayodhya issue has to be resolved either through mutual consent or court’s decision,” he said.

As a political outfit BJP was free to follow its own programme. But in an alliance, every party has to be consulted and accommodated before the actual governance agenda is set, the chief minister explained.

The chief minister also dismissed the Opposition’s charge of EVM manipulation. “The technology has ushered transparency in the poll process. I am all for it. The Election Commission has clarified its position. When Opposition smells a defeat, it starts raising question,” he said.