Patna: In a rare show of strength, Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar backed his Andhra Pradesh counterpart Chandrababu Naidu’s demand for according special category status to the southern state.
Speaking at the governing council meeting of the NITI Aayog in New Delhi on Sunday, Kumar raised a similar demand for Bihar, saying the state lagged behind on indexes of human development, per capita income, education, health and institutional finance, thus making it a fit case for special status.
Kumar said after carving out Jharkhand as a separate state, Bihar was left with very little resources. He also said a special cell under the planning commission, which was instituted to look into the needs of the state, should be revived as the NITI Aayog had replaced the commission.
The Bihar chief minister demanded the release of Rs 2,600 crore as Backward Region Grant Fund (BRGF), which he claimed was due to his state.
Criticising various centrally assisted schemes such as anganwadis and mid-day meal plans, Kumar said temples of education had been reduced to cooking centres, thereby undermining the quality of education.
He said the state government had launched several initiatives for welfare which should be supported by the NITI Aayog.
Since his return to the NDA fold, the chief minister has come under fire from the opposition in Bihar that has accused him of forgetting the demand for special status.
The Rashtriya Janata Dal and the Congress have alleged that Kumar works under pressure from his alliance partner, the BJP.
However, after the BJP’s recent debacle in the bypolls and the defeat of the JD(U) candidate in the Jokihat assembly seat, Kumar has become a vocal critic of the Centre’s policies.