After the National Democratic alliance broke in Bihar, the Janata Dal (United) has been looking for an excuse to ally with the Congress. That is the reason why Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar hailed the Raghuram Rajan committee report, which is against Bihar’s interest, Sushil Kumar Modi, former deputy Chief Minister from the Bharatiya Janata Party, told a press conference here on Friday.
“This is a lame duck report. It negates the very idea of special category status, and yet Mr. Kumar is hailing it. He had said he won’t agree to anything less than special category status. After the NDA split, the JD(U) has been looking for an excuse to form an alliance with the Congress,” Mr. Modi said.
Citing from the dissent note of economist Shaibal Gupta, a member of the Rajan panel who represented Bihar, Mr. Modi said, “It seems there is a concerted strategy not only to deny Bihar the special category status but also denying its legitimate demand by putting it on a higher rank in the underdevelopment index.”
“If Bihar was to benefit from this report, why would Mr. Gupta who represented Bihar’s interest have given a dissent note? I am surprised at the celebrations. The committee has a hidden agenda. To avoid facing the demand of special status from several States, the panel nipped the problem in the bud by subsuming the special category itself. There is a lot of difference between special category and something akin to special category,” Mr. Modi said.
In the dissent note, Mr. Gupta challenged four of the 10 criteria the panel used to assess backwardness. Instead of per capita income (PCI), the panel used the monthly per capita consumption expenditure as a criterion to determine backwardness. Owing to this, Orissa, which has higher PCI than Bihar, was listed as more backward that the latter.
Mr. Modi also pointed out that the report made it clear that the new parameters will be used to allocate only “some of the development funds.” Central assistance to State under old parameters will continue as before.
On the basis of the dissent note, the BJP leader demanded the constitution of a new committee to “revisit the existing formulae to assess backwardness for centrally sponsored schemes.”
Mr. Modi said he was not dismissing the report entirely, but called for a clarification from Mr. Kumar on what “special help” Bihar was set to get.