Girja Shankar Kaura, Tribune News Service
New Delhi, March 17. Sounding the election bugle, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar today sought special status for his backward state and suggested that his support would be crucial for formation of next government at the Centre.
Bringing his political fight to Delhi, Nitish, who has been openly opposed to Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi being named as NDA’s prime ministerial candidate, also went to the extent of suggesting that his party, JD-U, which is part of BJP-led NDA, was not averse to exploring other tie-ups.
“Either you give it (special status) now or after 2014, you will have to give it. You will have to accept the demand in circumstances that will be there after 2014. Only one, who feels about the backward, the backward states will occupy the seat of power in Delhi,” Nitish said addressing the‘Adhikar’ rally here.
Nitish urged the Union Government to “change the criteria to give special status to Bihar.” “We have been told that we do not meet all qualifications for getting special status,” he said. Making a strong political statement, a day after Modi had an audience full of industrialists, politicians and people from the middle class in rapt attention at a conclave here, Nitish although admitted that while Finance Minister P Chidambaram’s Budget 2013 had showed concern for Bihar, the state had largely been treated unfairly by the Centre.
At the rally for which BJP leaders (JD-U’s key ally in Bihar), were not invited, Nitish tried to juxtapose his politics against that of Modi, by saying that his own model of development was that of a unified India.
“We will leave everyone behind and move ahead with development. And we will present a model before the world.
These days development model is being discussed. This model is what takes along everyone together. This is the real development model of India,” Kumar said in a veiled reference to the Modi’s speeches about the Gujarat model of development.
Pitching himself for a national role ahead of the 2014 General Election, Nitish did not hide his prime ministerial ambitions, saying: “Only those who understand the pain of the poor and the backward must rule Delhi.”
He said his demand would not only benefit Bihar, but also other backward regions of the country. “If backward regions start developing, it will push up the national growth rate. We want development for all.”
In his over 20-minute speech, Kumar invoked regional pride and said that people from Bihar are ignored everywhere and cited the Centre’s refusal to give rehabilitation funds for Kosi flood victims and the repeated refusal of the government in past to accord special status to the state.
Focusing on the steps taken by him for good governance, the Bihar Chief Minister referred to the bicycle scheme in his state and questioned “whether the Centre has any such scheme which has benefited so many people in four years.”
He said the UPA government will have to implement what they have stated and “if they delay, then the people of Bihar will have to prepare themselves. “We will not rest in peace till we get special status for the state. Those in power in Delhi should be careful. We have come forward to seek our rights.”
Kumar will also be meeting Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.