Nitish Kumar to lobby for Bihar's 'special status'

Patna, Nov 6 (IANS) Chief Minister Nitish Kumar is set to lobby with chief ministers of other states, to urge the centre to grant special status to Bihar and some other states that lag behind in development and growth, an official said Tuesday.

Nitish Kumar is set to visit Pakistan this month. The efforts to gain special status will be intensified on his return from Pakistan, the official said.

Two days after Nitish Kumar demanded special status for Bihar and other states that lag behind the national average for human development and economic growth, he asked some top officials to prepare a detailed report on the subject, before he approached chief ministers of other states, an official said.

"The central government should accord a special status to Bihar and other states which are lagging behind the national average on growth indicators, to ensure their rapid development," Nitish Kumar said while addressing the "Adhikar" rally here last Sunday.

Nitish Kumar pointed out that special status should extend to states that are not necessarily hill states. The centre should revise the criterion set for offering such status to states, he said.

According to experts, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Chhattisgarh are among nine states whose per capita net domestic product (at 2004-05 prices) is below the national average. The national average is Rs.38,005. However, of these nine, some states such as Jammu and Kashmir already have special status.

"Bihar's per capita income, investment and consumption of electricity are among the lowest in the country. It lags behind in all human resource indices. To achieve the national average of economic growth, Bihar must be accorded special category status," Nitish Kumar said.

"Bihar's 10.5 crore people, especially youths, are not ready to wait for 25 years to see change," he said, "We will fight for it."

Nitish Kumar is heading a delegation of ministers and officials to Pakistan Nov 9-16, at the invitation of some provincial chief ministers there, officials said.

In August, a Pakistani delegation, during a visit to Bihar, extended an invitation to Nitish Kumar on behalf of Pakistani Punjab's Chief Minister Mohammad Shahwaz Sharif, brother of former Pakistan premier Nawaz Sharif, to visit the neighbouring country.

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