Nitish makes it clear, his support crucial for next govt
Bringing to Delhi his battle for special status to Bihar, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Sunday suggested that his support would be crucial for formation of next government at the Centre and Janata Dal-United, which is part of Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance, was not averse to exploring other tie-ups.
"Either you give it (special status) now or after 2014 (elections), you will have to give it. You will have to accept the demand in circumstances that will be there after 2014. Only one, who feels about the backward, the backward states will occupy the seat of power in Delhi (Centre)," Kumar said addressing 'Adhikar' rally in New Delhi, dubbed by many as a show of strength.
Alleging that his state has been "discriminated" against, the JDU leader said, "We do not have to see either to the left or to the right. We have to look straight."
"The government in Delhi (Centre) should be such, which looks after our interests," he said as the crowd broke into cheers.
His comments were being interpreted as an attempt to maintain equi-distance from both BJP as well as Congress ahead of the next general elections.
At the rally for which leaders of JDU's key ally in Bihar BJP were not invited, Kumar launched a clear counter to Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi's development plank, saying his state would present the "real model" for progress which takes everyone along.
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Image: Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar
'Fight not for Bihar alone, but other backward states, too'
"We will leave everyone behind and move ahead with development. And we will present a model before the world. These days development model is being discussed. This model is what takes along everyone together. This is the real development model of India," Kumar said, in an apparent reference to the 'Gujarat model' being touted by Modi.
Welcoming the Centre's proposal to change the criteria for backwardness as well as granting special status to a state, Kumar said this should be implemented soon and his fight was "not only for Bihar but other similar backward states, too."
"If policies change, the benefit will not accrue only to Bihar but other backward states as well," he said.
Declaring that the fight for special status to Bihar will go further, Kumar said if the Centre procrastinates giving state special status, people from Bihar will to be ready for the battle ahead.
With the increasing focus of a section in BJP on Modi, discomfiture has only grown in JDU as the antipathy between Kumar and Modi is well-known.
In his over 20-minute speech at Ramlila maidan in New Delhi invoking regional pride, Kumar said that people from Bihar are ignored everywhere and cited the Centre's refusal to give rehabilitation funds for Kosi flood victims and the repeated refusal of the government in past to accord special status to the state.
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Image: A vendor tries to sell bananas to the passengers sitting atop of a bus as they wait to cross a toll gate at Hajipur industrial park on the outskirts of the eastern Indian city of Patna, in Bihar
Photographs: Adnan Abidi/Reuters
'We are not begging. We are seeking our rights'
"We knocked at every door from that of the prime minister to Planning Commission....What is the fault of Biharis? Why Bihar does not get the assistance? We are not begging for something. We are seeking our rights. This is our right. Does Bihar not have a right to develop? We have been discriminated against," Kumar said.
In a resolution passed at the rally, the JDU said, "the commitment in the Budget speech must now result in its urgent implementation. We seek a time-bound action to accord a special category status to Bihar. We resolve to continue our struggle till this quest for special status is attained."
Focusing on the steps taken by him for good governance, Kumar referred to the bicycle scheme in his state and asked "whether the Centre has any such scheme which has benefited so many people in four years."
He said the UPA government will have to implement what they have stated and "if they delay, then the people of Bihar will have to prepare themselves.
"We will not rest in peace till we get special status for the state. Those in power in Delhi should be careful. We have come forward to seek our rights".
He said time has come to bring together people of all backward regions so that the "real development" of the country can be ensured.
Image: A bicycle hangs from the window of a train at Parsha Bazar railway station in Bihar
Photographs: Navesh Chitrakar/Reuters