Bihar governor Ram Nath Kovind on Friday reiterated the Nitish Kumar government’s demand for according ‘special category state’ status to Bihar to add pace to Bihar’s development so that it could contribute more to nation’s progress.
“Special status is Bihar’s right and it should get it to boost industrialisation, create new job opportunities and ensure availability of resources. The government is committed to all-round progress to set new benchmark for development,” he said. The governor was addressing a joint session of the Bihar legislature, the first since the new assembly was constituted after the state assembly poll which saw the Nitish Kumar-led Grand Alliance being voted to office.
The ‘special category’ demand has already been rejected by the Narendra Modi government on the grounds that the 14th finance commission, in its report accepted by the Centre, had done away with the concept of ‘special’ status.
However, the governor, a Modi government appointee, reiterated the demand nonetheless, apparently reading a speech, the text of which, as per tradition, is provided by the state government.
He also underlined the government’s resolve for maintaining the rule of law, zero tolerance to corruption and inclusive development, with focus on youth and women as well as the deprived sections, while spelling out the state’s priorities.
Kovind said the government had achieved a lot with its relentless efforts for development with justice, which was manifested in 21% drop in below poverty line (BPL) population and average 10.2% growth rate in the last decade.
“BPL population has come down from 54% to 33%. But a lot more still needs to be done. For this, the government has accepted ‘seven resolves for a developed Bihar’ to achieve the target of good governance,” he added.
The inclusion of these ‘resolves’ in the governor’s speech means their implementation will henceforth be state policy.
Chief minister Nitish Kumar had announced his ‘Seven Nischay’ (seven resolves) in August, before polling dates were announced. In these, he had promised unemployment allowance, a 35% reservation for women in jobs and piped water and free electricity connection to every home.
Kovind said providing the young generation education, skills and employment was the key to state’s quest for inclusive development, which got eloquently reflected in girls cycling to schools in groups even in the remotest areas.
“A comprehensive policy for the youth will include students’ credit card for educational loan, employment counselling and establishment of skill development centres, venture capital for young entrepreneurs and wifi facility in colleges and universities. Besides, arrangement for professional and technical education will be made at the district and sub-divisional level,” he added.
The governor said the government would take forward its objective of women’s empowerment, which started with 50% reservation in panchayati raj, urban civic bodies and teachers’ recruitment, by giving them 35% quota in all government jobs.
Kovind said the state government had accepted the challenge to improve power scenario in the state and things had consistently improved. “All district headquarters today get 22-24 hour power supply, while rural areas get it for 14 hours. Power supply in the state has increased from 700 mw to 3400 mw. Work is in progress on schemes worth Rs 8,000-crore for wide-ranging improvement and in the next two years full electrification will be achieved,” he added.
The governor said the government had embarked on the second phase health reforms, while work was underway on the agriculture roadmap to usher in sustainable rainbow revolution in the state.
“Bihar’s average growth in the last 10 years has been 10.2%, while the plan size has increased from Rs 4,000-crore to Rs 57,000-crore. Bihar’s own revenue generation through taxes has increased seven-fold,” he said, thanking the people of the state for giving it a mandate for carrying forth development.