Even though the Raghuram Rajan panel proposed an end to the ‘special category’ criteria, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has hailed its suggestions as “an ideological victory” for the people of the State.
The committee was formed to suggest ways to identify indicators to measure the relative backwardness of the States.
A special category status for Bihar is Mr. Kumar’s chief poll plank. Before the National Democratic Alliance broke up in Bihar, he had spoken of his Janata Dal(United) backing that party at the Centre which fulfilled this demand.
“The special category status has been subsumed, but the panel has looked at the parameters of development afresh. After [Union Finance Minister] P. Chidambaram’s statement, there is no doubt that this is a positive step. The report is in the public domain. A new path has opened up and Bihar would be entitled to more Central help for development schemes. Most importantly, this is an ideological victory. The panel has accepted in principle that special efforts are required for backward states. Development is outright,” Mr. Kumar told a press conference here on Thursday.
He said the panel had considered the parameter of per capita consumption to determine backward-ness, although Bihar had suggested the income parameter. He vowed to take the “fight” to its logical end. Mr. Kumar said Bihar was reaping the fruits of a relentless campaign for special status. “We took 1.18 crore signatures and presented them to the Prime Minister. We staged Adhikar rallies in Bihar last November and in New Delhi this March. Later, a committee of experts was formed headed by Chief Economic Advisor Raghuram Rajan [now RBI governor]. We did speak not only for Bihar but for all backward States. The fight in Bihar had a national impact and changed the development discourse,” he said.
Mr. Kumar took a dig at the BJP and Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad for creating an atmosphere of “negativism” and “mocking” the demand.
While JD(U) supporters celebrated the report with beating of drums at the party office, the former Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Modi of the BJP, questioning its benefit, tweeted: “Raghuram Rajan panel has in a way negated the very concept of special category status... khoda pahar nikli chuhiya [All that work for nothing].”
Nothing to rejoice, says Lalu
Mr. Prasad said there was nothing to rejoice about the report. He accused Mr. Kumar of misleading the people.