Manoj Chaurasia in Patna
Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar, who is now making a strong pitch for getting special category status for his state, was actually using all his might to scuttle the efforts of his predecessor, Rabri Devi, to realise the same demand.
The Opposition parties are now digging up old newspaper clippings to expose the "double standard" of Kumar.
When the ruling Janata Dal (United) is taking the campaign for special status for Bihar to a feverish pitch, the RJD and the Congress have decided to hit back.
And it's RJD chief Lalu Prasad who has taken it upon himself to orchestrate the move to "call the chief minister's bluff ".
"We are going to circulate copies of old newspaper clippings wherein then Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee during a rally at Patna’s Gandhi Maidan in February 2002 agreed to seriously consider the special category status demand made by former chief minister Rabri Devi. But, he later rejected it”, Prasad said. The RJD chief alleged that the rejection was the outcome of pressure applied by Kumar who was then railway minister of the Vajpayee government.
The RJD chief said he would go to the masses armed with evidence and make them aware of how the chief minister was "hoodwinking" the people. The Congress, too, has planned to circulate copies of the speech of the former Prime Minister rejecting the special category status demand and paste copies of the speech at all the block headquarters across the state. The Congress was then a coalition partner in the ruling RJD government in the state headed by Rabri Devi.
“The only one responsible for Bihar not getting special status is the NDA government and Nitish Kumar. The former Prime Minister declared in the presence of Kumar and Sushil Kumar Modi during a rally at Gandhi Maidan that Bihar won't be given special status. The news was covered by all the newspapers in Patna the next day. We will now distribute copies of this speech among the masses and expose the hollowness of the state chief minister's campaign,” the state Congress president, Chaudhary Memboob Ali Kaiser, said.
Political circles say Kumar’s demand for special category status is nothing more than a “political stunt” as Bihar does not fulfil the criteria required to avail this facility. They say if Bihar is granted the status, then other states too will make the same demand. Eleven states which share international boundaries are inaccessible and backward ~ both socially and economically~ due to their topography and as such they can demand special status for themselves.
The Bihar chief minister launched the campaign for special status through his month-long “Adhikar yatra” from north Bihar’s West Champaran district to drum up support for the demand. The yatra which is set to cover each of the 38 districts of Bihar will culminate in a massive “Adhikar Rally” in Patna’s Gandhi Maidan.
He is equating the question of special status with Bihar's "pride and is gearing up for mobilising the people to fight for their pride at the rally. “I am fighting to restore the dignity of the people of Bihar by bringing the fruits of developments to your doorstep so that you people do not have to go outside in search of jobs and face insults”, the CM has been telling the masses at his rallies.
Explaining the rationale behind this demand, he says the special category status would mean tax recessions to industries which will attract huge investments in the state leading to massive development. However, everything does not appear well with the CM as wherever he has gone, he has received huge protests by unpaid teachers and villagers.