Special category status for Bihar

There are several states in the Eastern part of the country which economically have not progressed in comparison to the others. These States have also suffered from natural disadvantages. Their resource mobilization itself has been inadequate. It is therefore natural that these States aspire to get a special category status which will ensure higher central revenues and grants.

Bihar has been one such State which has been aspiring for a special category status. On account of division of the original Bihar between Bihar and Jharkhand, natural resources became a part of Jharkhand. The NDA government in all these years in Bihar had repeatedly demanded a special category status for Bihar. Amongst the political parties of Bihar there is a near consensus on this issue. The Congress in the last two years has held an olive branch to the JD(U) that it was willing to consider the grant of special category status to Bihar. In the 2013 General Budget speech the Finance Minister had in fact indicated that the Government would constitute a committee in order to favourably consider the grant of special category status to Bihar. This assurance was more political than being linked to the economic necessities of Bihar. The intention of the UPA was to lead the JD(U) up the garden path that the special category status to Bihar was indeed coming. I do not know how the astute leadership of the JD(U) fell for this.

Coincidentally the signaling towards this special category status was also at the same time when the JD(U)- BJP break-up in relationship took place. Once the JD(U) was on its own the special category status did not come. Simultaneously, in the swayamvar between the RJD and JD(U) the Congress party preferred its old ally. Newspaper reports now indicate that the seat sharing between the RJD and the Congress is somewhat stalemated. The JD(U) has organized a state wide protest to demand the special category status. The media has also indicated that the JD(U) may even now attempt an alliance with the Congress, a party which has already double-crossed it on the special category status.