Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar today slammed the Congress saying it has put the issue of special category status for Bihar on the "back burner" under the influence of its "natural ally".
"The Congress has put the issue of special category status for Bihar on the back burner under the influence of its natural ally. We will certainly raise the issue in 2014 Lok Sabha polls," Kumar told reporters at the airport on landing from New Delhi, in an apparent reference to the Rashtriya Janata Dal.
Amid reports of strain in the relationship between the RJD and Lok Janshakti Party in the process of pre-poll tie-up, Kumar said though there has not been any talks with the Ramvilas Paswan party for partnership (but) "politics is a game of possibilities".
The Centre had constituted a committee under Raghuram Rajan, now Reserve Bank of India governor, to decide the criteria for defining backwardness on economic considerations and it had given a report placing Bihar among least developed states category.
"The matter for grant of special category status was tipped to come up in the meeting of finance secretary which has been now put on hold, indicating a change of mind of Congress due to political considerations," Kumar said.
He made it clear that the Janata Dal-United did not have any "political issue" with the Congress and their interactions recently were on the subject of granting special category status to Bihar. The Bihar chief minister said during the coming Lok Sabha poll campaign, he would ask people to give a clear mandate so that the issue of special category status could be clinched once and for all.
About a possible alliance between the Congress and RJD, Kumar wondered if the two had not always been together. "It was due to the graciousness of Congress that the great RJD leader had got front seat in the Lok Sabha out of their quota. This unfortunately has now been over due to his conviction and subsequent disqualification from Parliament," he said, without naming Lalu Prasad.
Kumar said this alliance (of the Congress and RJD) would not have much impact on people who cannot forget the experiences from 1989 to 2005.
The Bihar CM once again made slammed celebrations on return of Lalu from the Ranchi jail and said he was released after getting bail from the Supreme Court. "It is a judicial process and not a political event that deserves a celebration," he said.
Kumar congratulated the Aam Aadmi Party for forming government in Delhi and expressed confidence that Arvind Kejriwal would be able to run the government properly. He said his lone JD-U MLA in Delhi Shoib Iqbal has pledged support to the AAP in running of government.
On tie-up with the Jharkhand Vikas Party of Babulal Marandi, he said they had "agreed to work together, but detailed talks can be held in future".
On chances of the Third Front opposed to the Congress and BJP in 2014 polls, he said, "it is premature to talk about it at this point of time."