BJP rail roko on February 28 against denial of special status to State

Miffed at the Centre’s decision to give the special category status to Seemandhra, a residuary State of Andhra Pradesh after the creation of Telangana, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Friday called a State-wide bandh for March 2 to protest the “discrimination” against Bihar, which has sought the same treatment.

The Opposition BJP has called a rail roko for February 28.

“Seemandhra was given the status in one day. [Congress president] Sonia Gandhi said, and it was done. Then why is Bihar being discriminated against? The people want an answer. I appeal to them to strike work for a day. On March 2, they should stage a Bihar bandh so that the Centre understands that toying with the interests of Bihar residents cannot be tolerated,” Mr. Kumar told reporters here. He said he did not object to the special status for Seemandhra, but felt betrayed because Bihar’s long-standing demand was shelved even after the State qualified for it because of its backwardness.

“In the context of the creation of Telangana, the special status for Seemandhra proves that if the Centre wishes, it can give it to any State. Though Bihar meets all the criteria for backwardness, why no decision has been taken? Bihar’s needs have been neglected. We have taken this very seriously. We made relentless efforts to mobilise public support… Bihar and other backward States have been betrayed,” Mr. Kumar said.

He said the proposal was unanimously passed by both Houses of the legislature. Later, the Janata Dal (United) submitted a memorandum to the Prime Minister with 1.18 crore signatures. Bihar’s chances were bright after the Raghuram Rajan Committee revised the criteria for backwardness. “We differed with their [the committee’s] parameters, yet the report held out a promise. We wrote to Finance Minister P. Chidambaram again and said special assistance was now possible in light of this report. We were given assurances. However, the issue was put in cold storage.”