Much-in-demand Nitish wants special status for Bihar (Roundup)

May 15th, 2009 - 7:24 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata Party New Delhi/Patna, May 15 (IANS) With political bargaining intensifying a day ahead of the Lok Sabha vote count, Bihar Chief Minister and Janata Dal-United leader Nitish Kumar Friday set the cat among the pigeons by saying he was willing to support any party that would grant his state “special status”.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) immediately scrambled to assert that Nitish Kumar was still with the National Democratic Alliance while the Congress pointed out that it has already given substantial funds to the eastern state.

During a book release function in Patna earlier Friday, Nitish Kumar said: “We will support whichever party or alliance gives Bihar a special category status. That will be the basis of our support.”

The JD-U leader’s remarks came a day before the poll results that are widely expected to deliver a fractured verdict and when leading alliances are frenetically working to shore up their numbers.

Subsequently, the BJP president Rajnath Singh told reporters that Nitish Kumar “hasn’t asked for anything unusual”. “He is a very seasoned politician. He knows which alliance will give Bihar a special status. He is part of the NDA and has assured us support,” Singh asserted.

Later in the afternoon, BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar reacting to the Congress statement that the United Progressive Alliance had always taken into consideration the demands of backward states, said: “All I can say is that some people are suffering from misconceptions.”

“The Congress is waiting below the grape tree, imagining the fruit will fall and that it will be sweet, but to their surprise the grapes will be sour,” Javadekar added.

The Congress, which was last week trying to get Nitish Kumar’s support, asked the Bihar chief minister to specify what he meant by ’special category status’.

“He (Nitish Kumar) needs to define and specify what he means by special status for Bihar. The UPA has always taken into consideration demands when it has released funds for backward states,” said Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh.

Congress spokesperson and Science and Technology Minister Kapil Sibal pointed out that while Nitish Kumar’s demand for a package was “fine”, the UPA government had already given “huge funds to Bihar under the backward state funds”.

“What exactly does he mean by special status,” Sibal asked.

Meanwhile, Lok Janshakti Party leader and Bihar leader Ram Vilas Paswan criticized the demand of Nitish Kumar as a “face”. “Those who have made the demand for special category for Bihar are only trying to hide their own faults,” he told reporters.

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