A day after Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee withdrew support to the UPA government, Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar said his party, JD (U) will support any party that gives Bihar special status.
"We are open. Whoever supports the special category status to Bihar, we will support them at the centre," he said launching his first 'adhikar yatra (Rights’ rally)' at Bettiah’s Maharaja Ground in West Champaran district.
The adhikar rally is aimed at drumming up mass support for a proposed November 4 rally in the state capital to demand special category status for the state.
Nitish said that with 40 Lok Sabha seats in the state, Bihar would play a crucial role in deciding which party or alliance came to power at the Centre.
"The present government at the centre is dependent on parties having barely three to four seats. You give support in winning 40 seats in the next Lok Sabha elections so that we can forcefully put forth our demand for special category status to Bihar and realize the goal," he said at the rally.
Kumar's condition assumes significance in view of the fluid political situation arising out of withdrawal of support to the Congress-led UPA government by Mamata Banerjee. At present, the JD (U) has 22 Lok Sabha MPs while its ally-the BJP has 12 MPs out of the 40 Lok sabha seats. The Congress and RJD have two seats each while two are Independents.
Kumar reiterated his demand, saying that it is high time the central government gave the state a special category status. "We will continue to fight till the demand is realised. Bihar should be accorded special category status for its development, as it lagged behind on several fronts and all human resource indices. Bihar's per capita income and investment is lowest in the country. The pace of economic development will be hastened only if it got a special category status," he said.
This is the first mass rally of the ruling Janata Dal-United (JD-U) since it came to power in November 2005.
During his march, the chief minister will cover over two dozen district towns and hundreds of rural pockets to rally support.
"Bihar should be accorded special category status for its development. We will fight for it," Nitish said in his address.
West Champaran is a significant venue since that is where Mahatma Gandhi had launched his first civil disobedience movement against the British rule.
(With inputs from IANS)