The new Bihar Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi has raised the issue of special category status for Bihar, the pet demand of his predecessor Nitish Kumar, with Prime Minister-designate Narendra Modi.
Manjhi raised the issue of special category status for Bihar when Modi had telephoned him after he was sworn-in as the Chief Minister (CM) succeeding Nitish Kumar. The new CM was addressing a section of media during an interaction late Saturday evening. "I had raised the demand for special status to Bihar when Narendra Modi had called to congratulate me after my swearing-in as the Chief Minister. The grant of special category to our state will go a long way in sending a good message among the poor," said Manjhi.
Carrying forward the agenda of his predecessor, Manjhi said if it was not fulfilled, a long agitation will be launched in the state. Special category status had been prominently raised by Nitish Kumar. The issue also topped the agenda of Janata Dal United (JD(U)) during the general elections. Kumar had organised two mega-rallies at Patna and New Delhi in support of special category status for Bihar. He had given the call for a one-day 'Bihar Bandh' when the UPA government had announced the special category status and special package for Seemandhra in the wake of the division of the state of Andhra Pradesh.
Narendra Modi, while campaigning for the Lok Sabha polls, had announced that if he came to power, he would provide 'special status', 'special package' and 'special attention' to Bihar and other Northeastern states for their better development.
Manjhi also said he has been invited to the swearing-in ceremony of Modi as the Prime Minister on May 26 at Rashtrapati Bhawan in New Delhi. "I have got the invite sent by the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) for Modi's swearing-in function. I will take a decision soon," Manjhi told reporters.
Asked about the chance of JD(U) and Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) coming together in his government, speculation about which was triggered when Lalu Prasad extended support to Manjhi during the trust vote, the Bihar CM dismissed any such possibility. "There will be no alliance with the RJD. We did not ask them to support us, but they did it on their own to keep the communal forces at bay," added Manjhi.
Asked about the BJP's allegation that he will be 'remote controlled' by the previous Chief Minister Nitish Kumar in day-to-day functioning, Manjhi said this showed the "Manuwadi mentality" and "mean mindset" of the saffron party for those who do good work. "It is the BJP which functions from the remote control of RSS at Nagpur. Can they say anything against RSS or its chief Mohan Bhagwat?" retorted Manjhi.
Talking about his agenda for the state, the Bihar Chief Minister said he sees only 10-12 months with him as the effective time period to complete the developmental agenda initiated by the Nitish Kumar government before the next assembly elections are declared, He stressed the need for further tightening of law and order situation in the wake of some recent incidents of crime. "We need to implement the policies that are already in place. We will implement the development roadmap of Nitish Kumar. We will consider any additional requirement if they arise. The Law and Order situation has deteriorated a bit and we will improve it. We will also crackdown on the middlemen active in government-related works," added Manjhi.
Talking about the power situation in the state, Manjhi said electricity is the priority area of the state government. Bihar's power production currently stands at 2,400 MW here, which will be increased to 4,500 to 5,000 MW by 2015. Manjhi, who himself hails from a landless 'mahadalit' caste, stressed the importance of land reforms and said steps will be taken to resolve land disputes. He added that cases related to atrocities on Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes would be disposed speedily.