Nitish Kumar's JD(U) sticks to its demand for Special Category Status for Bihar

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with TDP chief N Chandrababu Naidu, JD(U) chief Nitish Kumar and Shiv Sena leader and Maharashtra CM Eknath Shinde during a meeting of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) at PM's residence, in New Delhi, Wednesday, June 5, 2024.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi with TDP chief N Chandrababu Naidu, JD(U) chief Nitish Kumar and Shiv Sena leader and Maharashtra CM Eknath Shinde during a meeting of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) at PM's residence, in New Delhi, Wednesday, June 5, 2024.

Patna | With the BJP relying on its allies, including the JD(U) to form the government at the Centre, the party's demand for special category status (SCS) for Bihar has again gained momentum.

Granting SCS to the state has been a long-pending demand of the JD(U) supremo and Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar, whose Bihar cabinet had even passed a resolution last year requesting the Centre to grant SCS to the state.

The Centre had previously said it would not entertain demands for "special category status" from any state, given the 14th Finance Commission's recommendation to abolish it. The SCS was introduced in 1969 to benefit certain backward states with hilly terrains, strategic international borders, and economic and infrastructural backwardness.

With 12 MPs, the JD(U) is the second biggest BJP ally after the Telugu Desam Party's 16 in the NDA. The backing of allies like the JD(U) and TDP is crucial for the BJP to form the government at the Centre, as the saffron party could not reach the majority mark on its own in the Lok Sabha elections.

Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, senior JD(U) leader and Bihar minister Vijay Kumar Choudhary said, "The JD(U) is part of the NDA and will remain with it. But there are certain demands of the JD(U) related to the financial condition and economy of Bihar that must be fulfilled by the Centre. Our demand for special category status for Bihar is fully justified and needs to be fulfilled. We stick to our demand for SCS for Bihar."

Justifying the Bihar government's demand for SCS, state parliamentary affairs minister Choudhary (who previously held the finance portfolio) told PTI on Thursday, "Bihar government has been demanding SCS for the state since 2011-12. Before that, a resolution in this regard was passed by both Houses of the Bihar legislature. Bihar is the most deserving state that needs special financial assistance from the Centre."

"The NITI Aayog had earlier admitted that Bihar made 'tremendous progress' across multiple sectors in the last decade, but owing to its weak base in the past, the state may take some more time to catch up with others and reach the optimum growth in all aspects. This is the reason that we have been demanding special assistance from the Centre," said Choudhary.

The economy of Bihar is one of the fastest-growing in India, he said, adding that the state has not only grown consistently but also outperformed even the most developed states. "We need a special package for the overall development of the state," he added.

According to experts, obtaining the special category status enables states to receive certain fiscal and tax benefits aimed at helping them attract investments and foster economic development due to certain geographical and socioeconomic disadvantages.

"Under the SCS, the Centre provides 90 per cent of funds in schemes that it sponsors. Other states that do not fall into this category receive 60 to 70 per cent of funds from the Centre, while the rest must be managed from their finances. These states also receive subsidies on excise and customs duties, income tax, and corporate tax," the minister told PTI.

Our support to PM Modi 'unconditional': Chirag Paswan

New Delhi | The LJP (Ram Vilas) has extended “unconditional” support to Prime Minister Narendra Modi as the BJP-led NDA’s victory in the just-concluded Lok Sabha polls is the "victory of his leadership", party chief Chirag Paswan said on Thursday.

Leaders of the BJP-led NDA unanimously elected PM Modi as the ruling bloc's leader on Wednesday, passing a resolution to underscore the government's commitment to serving the poor, women, youths, farmers and deprived sections of society.

They had met at PM Modi's residence here a day after the NDA won a majority of seats in the Lok Sabha elections, paving the way for him to take the oath for a third consecutive term, a first for any ruling alliance since 1962.

“We extended our support to the prime minister and his leadership at yesterday’s meeting. We humbly accepted his leadership without any condition,” Paswan told reporters when asked about the Wednesday meeting.

“And there can’t be any condition. This is the victory of the prime minister’s leadership. The NDA has got a landslide victory because of the way he took the NDA along with him,” the LJP (Ram Vilas) chief added.

TDP, second largest party in NDA, likely to join govt at Centre

Amaravati | The Telugu Desam Party, which has emerged as 'king maker' in the NDA government's formation at the Centre, is likely to join the union cabinet, and June 12 has been chosen as the tentative date on which TDP supremo N Chandrababu Naidu will be swearing in as chief minister of Andhra Pradesh.

TDP spokesperson Jyotshna Tirunagari said the TDP is the second-largest and most crucial party in the NDA.

“Chandrababu Naidu’s swearing-in ceremony is tentatively scheduled for June 12. We are a part of the NDA and will obviously be joining the Central government,” she told PTI.

The TDP leader further said this is not the first time that the party has been in government with the NDA at the centre.

“If you remember, during Vajpayeeji’s government, we were also there. In 2014, we were there, and now, in 2024, we are here,” she added.

Late TDP leader GMC Balayogi was the Speaker of the Lok Sabha when Atal Bihari Vajpayee was the prime minister. However, he died in a chopper crash in Andhra Pradesh in 2002.

Former TDP MP K Ravindra Nath said Naidu directed all party MPs to attend NDA's Friday meeting in New Delhi, and said that Naidu is also leaving for the national capital tonight.

When asked about the TDP joining the government at the Centre, he said that so far, the TDP supremo has not given any indications.

The TDP alone won 16 MP seats in Andhra Pradesh, while the NDA alliance of the TDP, BJP and Janasena collectively won the lion’s share of 21 seats out of 25.

Senior BJP leader and the party’s Rajya Sabha MP GVL Narasimha Rao told PTI that there are discussions among NDA partners, but no clarity has emerged so far.

“No information has come out so far. We will have to wait until it comes out officially. We know that discussions are going on. But we don't have information on how many seats (cabinet berths) are being offered,” the BJP leader said.

During the NDA regime in 2014, in which the TDP was also a constituent, the Andhra Pradesh-based party was given one post as cabinet minister and another as minister of state.

P Ashok Gajapathi Raju and Y S Chowdary (now in BJP) were in the cabinet from June 2014 to 2018.

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