Kumar frequently wrote letters to the Centre highlighting the raw deal Bihar was getting under the new formula for distribution of tax revenue among the states.
The BJP which has been saddled with similar demands emanating from other states since assuming power at the Centre, has however chosen to remain equivocal.
While the voluble Prime Minister has avoided touching upon the subject, late Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had pinned the blame on the 14th Finance Commission which had allegedly done away with the system of conferring special category status upon weaker states.
Jaitley’s averment had triggered hopes that the record would be straightened by the 15th Finance Commission. However these were dashed when the commissions head N K Singh said it was a demand that could be met only by the National Development Council.
Incidentally, Singh, now with the BJP, had been a strong votary of Bihar’s special status demand when he was serving his Rajya Sabha tenure as a JD(U) member.
Speculations that the latest demand could be a ploy by the JD(U) to flex its muscles, mortified by its diminution in strength in the assembly polls last year, have been dismissed by the party.
Re-induction of Kushwaha by Kumar, who is known not to easily forgive his deserters, is seen as an attempt to consolidate his Kurmi-Koeri base and send out a strong message to the BJP which has ended up being numerically stronger on account of LJP chief Chirag Paswan, who swears by his loyalty to the PM, having opened a front against the JD(U) in the assembly polls.
K C Tyagi, the JD(U)s principal national secretary general and chief spokesman underscored that special status has been our long-standing demand. The Niti Aayog report is not a reflection on Nitish Kumar’s performance. Rather, it affirms our stand that Bihar has been wronged and must get its due.
Bihars score of 52 in the SDG rankings against a national average of 66 and Keralas impressive 75, was an eyesore as even Jharkhand which was cared out of it has a higher ranking and score. However, the narrative woven by the JD(U) is that lack of resource allocations has made it even more difficult for Bihar to break out of the poverty trap it is in.