Nitish Kumar govt drops decade-old demand for special status to Bihar

  • Bihar’s demand for special category status is a long-pending one and the ruling party Janata Dal (United) made it the primary election agenda throughout several elections.
Nitish Kumar speaks at a press conference(Santosh Kumar /Hindustan Times)
Nitish Kumar speaks at a press conference(Santosh Kumar /Hindustan Times)
Updated on Sep 27, 2021 07:27 PM IST
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Written by Shankhyaneel Sarkar | Edited by Avik Roy, Hindustan Times, Patna/ New Delhi

The Nitish Kumar government on Monday said that it will cease demanding for the special category status for Bihar and will seek special assistance instead. Brijendra Yadav, a senior minister of the Nitish Kumar cabinet, said that the government is ‘tired’ of demanding the special status.

“There is a limit to it. Now we will seek special assistance in every field,” Yadav said.

Bihar’s demand for special category status is a long-pending one and the ruling party Janata Dal (United) made it the primary election agenda throughout several elections.

The special category status is accorded to states which have hilly and difficult terrain, low population density, presence of a sizable tribal population, strategic location along international borders, economic and infrastructural backwardness and non-viable nature of state finances. This criteria was introduced by the government in 1969 acknowledging that several regions of the country were disadvantaged than the others.

The states of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Nagaland, Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Sikkim and Tripura were accorded special category status. Jammu and Kashmir, however, does not enjoy a special status and a special category status anymore since Article 35A was scrapped.

Bihar lawmaker from the Janata Dal (United), Rajiv Ranjan Singh, earlier during the monsoon session, asked in the Lok Sabha if the Centre is considering giving special status to Bihar, but the government in its reply said that the 14th Finance Commission gives states more fiscal space for implementation of projects.

The Centre in 2015 said that the implementation of the 14th Finance Commission and forming of the Niti Aayog removed the concept of Special Category Status. It says that according to the 14th Finance Commission recommendations, the share of states in the divisible pool of central taxes has increased from 32% to 42%.

Bihar lawmakers earlier this year cited a NITI Aayog's Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) India Index Report 2020-21 which showed that Bihar's composite score was lowest among all states to reignite the demand of giving special category status to the state. The report also showed that 33.74% of the population was living below the poverty line and 52.5% of the population were suffering from multidimensional poverty.

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Tuesday, June 28, 2022