The Rs 12,000-crore special package for Bihar, announced by the Centre, for the remainder of the 12th five year plan has evoked mixed reactions in the state. The ruling BJP-JD(U) combine complained that the allocation fell far too short of the demand for Rs 20,000 crore.

Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, who is on a visit to Balmiki Nagar in Bagha district, is yet to react to the announcement.

However, BJP leader and Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi described the allocation as ‘illusory.’

Mr Modi, who is also the state’s finance minister, said this was not a new package for Bihar. “The decision forms part of a special package announced by the NDA government of Atal Bihari Vajpayee after separation of Jharkhand from it and there is nothing new in this.”

The Bihar government had sought Rs 57,344 crore in the 12th five year plan and a sum of Rs 20,000 crore under the Backward Regions Grant Fund during the plan period, but the Centre chose to lower the allocation to Rs 12,000 crore, he said.

Accusing the Centre of discriminating against Bihar, Mr Modi said the UPA government had also slashed Rs 1,800 crore in the annual budget for 2013-14 as compared to the last fiscal.

The special package approved by the Union Cabinet yesterday is widely seen as part of the Centre’s efforts to reach out to Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar amid indication of strain in ties between old NDA allies JD(U) and BJP.

State president of Janata Dal (U) Bashist Narayan Singh said there was not much to cheer the decision as it fell short of the demand for Rs 20,000 under BRGF.

“There is nothing to welcome the approval of Rs 12,000 crore under BRGF for Bihar as it is short of our expectation of Rs 20,000 crore,” Mr Singh said

He said Mr Kumar had sought the Rs 20,000 crore special fund because the state was witnessing fast growth and more money was needed to give a boost to development.

However, the argument was not given much weightage and a lower allocation was made, he said.

“Irregular flow of funds is one of the important reasons for backwardness in Bihar,” he said, adding that the state of affairs could end only with the granting of special category status, for which JD(U) was making all efforts.

Congress Legislature party leader in the state Assembly Sadanand Singh said, “It’s a very good decision. This will help reduce backwardness of Bihar.”

On the Deputy Chief Minister’s contention, the Congress leader said he should know that the Vajpayee government had allocated only Rs 1,000 crore after the division of Bihar and the creation of Jharkhand, and this too was at the fag end of the NDA rule.

RJD state president Ramchandra Purve said the special fund was a result of efforts put in by party chief Lalu Prasad and former Union Rural Development minister Raghubansh Prasad Singh in UPA