The Planning Commission had turned down Rajasthan government’s request for special category status in March 2010 — it was headed by Congress’ Ashok Gehlot at that time.

The Commission had said: “It would be more appropriate to provide financial assistance/additional Central assistance… rather than changing the status.”

A similar request from the government of Bihar is under consideration of the Planning Commission, according to the response to an unstarred question in Lok Sabha in March 2011.

Following Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s Friday announcement of special status for the successor State of Andhra Pradesh, Union Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh told reporters that a special unit would be created in the Planning Commission headed by the Deputy Chairman for addressing Seemandhra’s development needs.

Mr. Ramesh had also said that Seemandhra would become the 12th State in the country with this status. Bulk of the Central assistance — 90 per cent — to Seemandhra would be in the form of grant, he said; adding that this was done on the intervention of Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi.

Nitish’s grouse

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, who is also member of the National Development Council, has called for a State-wide bandh on March 2 to protest the “discrimination” against Bihar, which has sought the same treatment. “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,” Mr. Kumar had told reporters. 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.

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