Nitish praises Chidambaram; premature reaction, say critics

Patna,(BiharTimes): Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, who two days back strongly criticized the Railway Budget, on Thursday lavished fulsome praise on Finance Minister P Chidambaram for promising to revisit criteria for special category status and said that it was a “victory in-principle” for Bihar in view of its consistent demand for grant of such a status.

Though apart from Bihar, it is Congress-ruled Rajasthan and BJD-ruled Odisha, which had been demanding special category status it is Bihar chief minister who is taking full credit for Chidambaram’s promise. In fact the Union Finance Minister had spoken on this line sometimes back too and the issue was raised in the Jaipur Chintan Shivir of the Congress party too.

Nitish said “we have been demanding review of criteria for special status to the states for a long time and framing of new criterion for grant of such a status to backward states like Bihar. I am glad that Chidambaram has referred to revisiting criteria for special status during his budget speech.”

Talking to reporters and later issuing Press release the chief minister said it is the victory of the people of Bihar and Chidambaram deserves kudos for understanding state’s aspirations for development.
He described the Centre’s stand on the special status as a ‘positive sign’.

He said the Centre’s promise to look into criteria for special status in the Economic Survey as well as the Union Budget speech has fuelled hope among the people of Bihar that the special status was a realistic demand that can be achieved.

He said JD(U) would continue to put pressure and as per plan would organize rally at Ramlila Maidan in New Delhi on March 17.

Nitish also appreciated the Finance Minister for his commitment on Nalanada University besides announcing the continuation of special assistance for Bihar during the 12th Five Year Plan period.

Though Nitish ruled out a political meaning of his praise for Chidambaram his friends and rivals see it just a political statement which has little to do with the ground reality. After all only a day before the Budget he said he had no expectation from it.

The BJP, a major partner in the NDA, appeared to be surprised over the way Nitish reacted on the Budget as the saffron party has taken totally different view. Nothing can be more surprising than the statement of the deputy chief minister, Sushil Kumar Modi, who strongly criticized the Union Budget, though he is considered very close to Nitish.

Other BJP leaders think that Chidambaram has said nothing new in the Budget as he had talked about revisiting the criteria for special status earlier too.

The BJP is upset as to why Janata Dal (United) has abandoned it if the issue of special status is so dear to the people of the state. In fact even on Nalanda University and special assistance the Finance Minister has not done something very unique, the chief minister’s critics within the NDA said.

Independent political observers too are completely surprised on the way the CM reacted, and that too two days after rubbishing the Railway Budget. There is near unanimity that Nitish has gone overboard in showering praise on Chidambaram.

One of them recalled Nitish had a good relationship with Chidambaram’s predecessor, Pranab Mukherjee too, as he supported him during the Presidential election. Needless to say the BJP opposed his candidature.

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