iconimg Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Chetan Chauhan, Hindustan Times
New Delhi, March 25, 2013
The DMK’s pullout from the UPA and the Samajwadi Party’s noises may prove to be an advantage for Bihar and West Bengal — the government is planning to dish out more to the two non-UPA ruled states. Bihar CM Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal (U), which has always been a constituent of the BJP-led NDA, and Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress, which left the UPA in a huff in September 2012 following the row over FDI in multi-brand retail, have recently been soft towards the UPA.

The Planning Commission on Monday formalised a special plan — not the special status, as demanded by both — under the Backward Regions Grants Fund for Bihar and Bengal.

The programme covers 272 backward districts of the country -- all districts in Bihar and 12 out of 20 in West Bengal.

A senior planning commission official said the two states could expect a 25-30% hike in central funds. Bihar’s special plan for 2013-14 is likely to be around Rs. 2,000 crore against Rs. 1,500 crore this year.

He said West Bengal would also see a hefty hike in funding. The state witnessed a 22% increase in BRGF in the last budget when the TMC was supporting the UPA.

A senior central government functionary clarified that Kumar’s demand for the special status was not likely to be met. He, however, said the Centre's intention to redefine the method of identifying a backward region – as declared in the last budget – will qualify Bihar and some other states for special allocations.

"The current definition of backwardness is based on being a hilly region or a border area is illogical and, therefore, we are reworking it. We will come out with a new policy in a few months," he said.