The Nitish Kumar government in Bihar upped the ante on the Chief Minister’s long-standing demand for grant of special status to the state with a resolution to the effect on Wednesday being passed by the cabinet.
Kumar broke the news himself, announcing the development on social media, shortly after the cabinet meeting he chaired here was over.
”The cabinet has passed a resolution (prastaav) requesting the Centre for grant of special category status to Bihar”, Kumar wrote in a lengthy post in which he also said that the fresh demand was necessitated by findings of the caste survey his government carried out in the state.
Kumar said that while the rise in percentage of population of the deprived castes has led to increase in the quotas for SCs, STs and OBCs from 50 to 65 per cent, his government also planned to undertake a number of welfare measures for the benefit of ”94 lakh families”, which according to the survey lived in abject poverty.
”We intend to provide, in instalments, an assistance of Rs two lakh to one member of each of these families for some type of economic activity (rozgar)”, said Kumar, adding that his government was also committed to building pucca houses for ”39 lakh families living in huts” and every such household will be provided Rs 1.20 lakh for the purpose.
He also said that his government had been providing an assistance of Rs 60,000 to landless families for purchasing land but has now decided to raise the sum to Rs one lakh which would benefit 63,850 such households identified in the survey.
”The implementation of all such measures will incur an expenditure of Rs 2.50 lakh crore. Because of the huge sum involved, we have set a deadline of five years from now for the completion of the schemes. But if we get special category status, we will be able to accomplish the task in a much shorter time”, said Kumar.
The JD(U) leader, who is the state’s longest-serving chief minister, also recounted that he had been raising the demand for special status ”since 2010” and rallies to press the demand were addressed by him here in 2012 and a year later at the Ram Lila Maidan in Delhi.
”To look into our demand, the government at the Centre had set up a committee headed by (former RBI governor) Raghuram Rajan which submitted its report but nothing came of it. In May 2017, we again wrote to the Centre requesting special status….. it is my request that the Centre agree to the demand keeping in view the interests of the people of Bihar”, said Kumar.
Notably, Kumar, who had dumped the BJP last year and has emerged as a key figure of the opposition coalition INDIA, has been asserting that if the new formation formed the next government at the Centre, he would press for ”special status to all backward states”.
Hoping to galvanize the deprived castes in his favour with the rise in quotas, Kumar has of late been renewing the long-standing demand with fresh vigour. He raised the demand on the floor of the assembly recently when the bills for increase in quotas in jobs and educational institutions were tabled before the assembly.
Last week, he had threatened to launch a state-wide agitation if the demand for special category status was not met.