All backward states in the country will be granted special status if non-BJP parties form a central government after the 2024 general election, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar announced today.
“If we have a chance to form a government, we will definitely give the backward states a special status. I am not only talking about Bihar but also about other states that will get special status.” , he told the media in response to a question.
This comes against the backdrop of Mr Kumar’s recent visit to Delhi, in which he met leaders of several Opposition parties to explore the possibility of bringing together an Opposition front to take on BJP electoral apparatus in the next general election.
Mr. Kumar, who broke up with the BJP last month and formed a new government in Bihar with support from Tejashwi Yadav’s Rashtriya Janata Dal and Parliament, has been asking for special status for Bihar since 2007. This strategy was devised by Janata Dal. Leadership (United), sometimes to score political points before elections and other times, to put pressure on the BJP ally.
If a state is awarded special status, the center-to-state funding ratio for centrally funded programs is 90:10, much more favorable than the ratio for other states.
Currently, there are 11 states in the special category in the country – Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir (now Union Territories), Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim, Tripura and Uttarakhand.
The Constitution does not provide for any special categories for the states, however, an agency called the National Development Council, part of the now defunct planning committee, has proposed The special status for these 11 states is based on a number of factors.
The government’s 2018 response to Parliament listed these factors as mountainous and difficult terrain, low population density and/or significant tribal population proportions, strategic location along the border with neighboring countries, backward economy and infrastructure
and the unfeasible nature of public finances.
The concept of special status for states disappeared after the government accepted the recommendations of the Finance Committee 14. However, Bihar, Odisha and Jharkhand persisted with the need, citing backwardness. and poverty.
Politically, Nitish Kumar making such an announcement shows that although he may say he has no ambitions to be Prime Minister, he sees himself as a prominent voice in any Opposition front. can join the BJP.