Will launch movement if Bihar doesn’t get special category status: Nitish

The Bihar CM has urged the State’s Opposition leaders to raise the demand with the BJP-led Centre, but State BJP leaders have asked him to first submit an NOC for grants that Bihar has already received

Updated - November 16, 2023 07:25 pm IST

Published - November 16, 2023 07:22 pm IST - PATNA

 Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar releases publications during release of first installment for beneficiaries of Mukhyamantri Udyamita Yojna, in Patna, on Nov. 16, 2023.

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar releases publications during release of first installment for beneficiaries of Mukhyamantri Udyamita Yojna, in Patna, on Nov. 16, 2023. | Photo Credit: PTI

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar said on Thursday that he would launch a movement across the State if the Union government did not grant Bihar special category status. Though he has urged Opposition BJP leaders to raise the issue with the BJP-led Union government, claiming that the status was needed for the State to progress, the State’s BJP leaders have asked the CM to first submit a No Objection Certificate for the grants that Bihar has already received from the Centre.

Special category status is generally granted to States which face geographical and socio-economic disadvantages, such as those which lie along an international border, have hilly terrain, a sizable share of tribal population, or suffer from economic and infrastructural backwardness. Such States receive a higher share of Central funding and financial support for development purposes.

‘Bihar is lagging behind’

“Bihar needs a special [category] status for more development and progress. If the Centre does not accord the special [category] status to the State, it means they’re against Bihar’s development. We’ll launch a movement across the State for the special [category] status to the State,” Mr. Kumar said at an event organised by the State’s industry department. “Many people need help, and to cater needs of all these people, it would take at least five years. So we want the special [category] status to be granted to Bihar so that the State can make progress in two years instead of five years,” he added.

“There was a time when Bihar was ahead of many other States, and development had started from this State itself. But now, the State is lagging behind other States, so there is a need for special [category] status to move ahead and become a developed State,” the Chief Minister said.

The BJP’s role

Mr. Kumar had also raised the issue in the State Assembly during the Winter Session, which concluded on November 10. “We’ve been doing a lot for the State but if you [Opposition BJP legislators] would get the special [category] status from the Centre for the State, Bihar will be more developed and shine,” he had said.

However, Hari Sahni, the Opposition BJP leader in the State Legislative Council, said: “Mr Kumar should first submit the NOC (No Objection Certificate) for the grants given till today by the Centre to Bihar.”

The media’s role

At Thursday’s event, the Chief Minister noted that the news media could also play a role in promoting the State’s demand. “If journalists will write only this in their publications about my demand for the special [category] status to Bihar, I’ll be thankful to them,” said Mr. Kumar, addressing reporters covering the event.

He slammed the national media for acting as a “captive” to the ruling party at the Centre. “Media is being controlled by the Central government but the media here [in Patna] is not at fault. It is people from Delhi who come here and say whatever they like about Bihar and this criticism gets lot of space [in the media]... Journalists do take notes here, but they will write only what they are told by those sitting in Delhi… Whatever I say will be deleted,” he complained.

In recent days, however, the CM has been avoiding interactions with the media, exiting events with folded hands and no comments. This comes after political outrage over his remarks on the role of women’s education in population control, as well as his statement in the State Assembly that it was his “stupidity” that led to the appointment of Jitan Ram Manjhi as the Chief Minister of the State in 2014. The political buzz is that Mr. Kumar has been advised by a group of Ministers close to him not to speak to media to avoid embarrassment and criticism over his remarks.

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