BJP state president Dr C.P. Thakur on Thursday said Bihar would continue to be on the development path even if it did not get the special status.
"If Bihar gets the special status, it is well and good. If it doesn't, it doesn't matter. The state will continue to develop," he told The Telegraph.
On Nitish Kumar's efforts to convince the Centre to accord Bihar the special status tag, Thakur said: "It is the chief minister's job and he is doing the right thing. But my contention is that even if Bihar does not get it, the state will continue to develop the way it is developing now. There is a need to utilise the central funds properly."
Thakur had recently created political ripples by saying the BJP was ready to contest all 40 Lok Sabha seats in Bihar on its own. His newest comment drew sharp reactions from the JD(U) that has been lobbying for the special status tag with Nitish spearheading the movement.
"We want to know that if this is Thakur's personal view or the party's," said JD(U) MLC and former minister Devesh Chandra Thakur. "We are committed to the special status demand. We dont care who says what," state JD(U) president Bashishtha Narayan Singh.
Several JD(U) leaders were surprised with Thakur's "casual approach" towards the issue. "The BJP itself had staged dharnas across the state in favour of the special status. Thakur is now talking about the issue in such a casual way. It indicates that the BJP's political programme was a mock show. If the alliance has to survive, the special status issue will be crucial," a JD(U) leader said.
For the past one year, chief minister Nitish Kumar has been spearheading the JD(U)'s agitation for the special status. The JD(U) had also collected signatures of people across the state in support of the demand and submitted them in the form of a memorandum to the Prime Minister. Its leaders staged a dharna at Jantar Mantar in Delhi and the party is now in the process of garnering support for its Adhikar Rally in Patna on November 4 and another public meeting at Ramlila Maidan in New Delhi next year. The party has made it clear that the special status would be its poll plank for the next general election, while Nitish has said he would support any formation at the Centre that would accept his demand.
Ever since Nitish started holding meetings to garner support for his Adhikar Rally, there has been a war of words between him and his political foes. Lalu Prasad and Ram Vilas Paswan have accused Nitish of trying to fool the people of Bihar to "hide his (Nitish's) failure to get the special status for Bihar during the NDA regime at the Centre".
Nitish, too, hit back at the chiefs of the RJD and the LJP, charging them with failing to use their influence to get the status during UPA-I regime. "Now we have to fight the issue with our own ally," said a visibly angry JD(U) MLC.