Nitish again raised the demand for special status to Bihar

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Wednesday reiterated the demand for special status, citing Bihar’s backwardness, huge population, poverty and lowest per capita income despite consistently high economic growth rate over the past decade.

JDU MLAs congratulated Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on his 73rd birthday during the budget session on Wednesday.  (Santosh Kumar/HT Photo)
JDU MLAs congratulated Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on his 73rd birthday during the budget session on Wednesday. (Santosh Kumar/HT Photo)

“…all political parties were unanimous (in demanding special status). If this happens, Bihar will have to spend less on central schemes and will be able to use the money for its own development programmes. Despite the high growth, the per capita income in Bihar has barely gone up to 54,383, while it is 1,50,000 at the national level. We are doing everything possible, but it is not enough. Now the state’s share in central schemes is around 40-50%, which will come down to 10% after getting the special status. Whatever money the state gets as part of the central transfer also comes late.

Kumar was replying to the motion of thanks after discussion on the governor’s address to the joint sitting of the state legislature on the first day of the budget session. Kumar remained restrained despite repeated objections by the BJP, which later staged a walkout.

Kumar said that the Governor’s address mentions the work done in Bihar and the vision for the future, which has been an example. He said, “I myself went on Samadhan Yatra earlier this year to take stock and talked about the needs and aspirations of the people so that more can be done in addition to the existing schemes.”

The Chief Minister said that apart from politics, everyone is looking at work in different fields to ensure inclusive development. “We know that education is an important tool for progress and population control. That’s why we want to teach in schools. We will appoint more teachers and also increase salaries, but everything is not so easy for a backward state like Bihar. Nevertheless, we are at work and the department is working out the modalities,” he said.

Kumar also responded to the opposition’s criticism of prohibition, citing studies conducted to assess its impact in the state and the feedback during his Samadhan Yatra. “Only a small percentage of people are in the wrong things. We should propagate that consumption of alcohol is a bad thing and if people do not drink then there will be no death due to poisonous alcohol. The government is tough on those manufacturing spurious liquor,” he said.

The Chief Minister also pitched for “one nation, one rate” for electricity. “Despite being poor, Bihar has to pay more. buy power on us 5.55/unit and provide it to agriculture for just 70 paise/unit. Some people want it to be free, but I don’t believe in ‘free-ship’. We charge the lowest possible price,” he said.

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