The BJP-led NDA’s stunning defeat at the hands of the RJD-JD(U)-Congress ‘grand alliance’ in the Bihar assembly election appears to have cast a shadow over the devolution of central funds for the ‘special package’ announced for the state.
The Rs 1.25 lakh crore package, announced by prime minister Narendra Modi at an election rally at Ara (Bhojpur) on August 18, was apparently meant to spur the electorate into endorsing his development agenda through an election vote.
Now that the assembly poll outcome has shown the development package failed to enthuse the voters sufficiently to hand out a mandate for the BJP-led NDA, there is an opinion the Modi government at the centre may not be in a hurry to ‘implement’ it.
“If the Modi government does not implement the package, it would mean reneging on a promise and undermining the country’s federal structure”, said DM Diwakar, former director of AN Sinha institute of social studies, a Patna think tank.
“But considering the PM had raised doubts during his election meetings as to whether the incumbent government could be trusted with the package funds, it will not be surprising if the devolution of package funds is held back”, Diwakar said.
There is also speculation that state BJP leaders may also not want the package funds to come to Bihar in a hurry, lest the money was utilised by the state government to usher in development to its own advantage.
Soon after it was announced, the anti-BJP ‘grand alliance’ had dismissed the package as being a ‘jumla’ (an election stunt) and chief minister Nitish Kumar had gone to lengths to point out that much of the package was repackaged ‘old stuff’.