Under fire from the Opposition over Bihar’s poor performance in NITI Aayog’s recently released Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) index for 2020-21, the JD(U) has reiterated its demand of special category status for the state.

In a special category state, the Centre-state funding of Centrally-sponsored schemes has a ratio of 90:10, unlike a share of 60:40 or 80:20 in other states. Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has been demanding special category status for the state since 2007.

In the latest SDG index report, which uses parameters of health, education, environment and overall human development index, Bihar ranked dead last, prompting RJD chief Lalu Prasad to say that under Nitish, the state has “ranked the top from the bottom”.

The JD(U), which often showcases Nitish’s development agenda, attributed the poor

SDG index showing on the state being denied the special category status.

Party parliamentary board chairman Upendra Kushwaha tweeted, “Despite shortage of natural resources post Jharkhand being carved out of Bihar and the state often facing natural calamities, Nitish Kumar-led NDA has been trying to speed up development with deft management skills. But with present rate of Bihar’s growth, it is not possible to compare it with other states. NITI Aayog’s recent report is a proof.”

Kushwaha also requested Prime Minister Narendra Modi to meet the JD(U)’s long-pending demand giving the special category status to Bihar and “do justice to people of the state”

Former CM and HAM(S) chief Jitan Ram Manjhi, an ally of the Nitish government, also lent his support to the demand stating that since the NDA is in power both in Bihar and at the Centre, this was the best opportunity for the state to get special category status.

“Despite limited resources, Nitish Kumar has put in his entire energy in improving law and order situation and education. Now, Bihar needs special category state status to improve its basic infrastructure. If Bihar does not get special category status in ‘Double engine’ government, it would never get it,” Manjhi said, referring to the NDA governments at both the Centre and the state.

Meanwhile, BJP spokesperson Guru Prakash Paswan told The Indian Express, “The NDA government has already committed to more than that (special category status to Bihar) with infrastructure projects comprising of road and connectivity in the state apart from schemes like PMGSY. (The establishment of) an AIIMS and airport in Darbhanga and multiple other projects are set to create opportunities for the people of Bihar. We are committed to the comprehensive development of the state. The focus now should be on securing people from the pandemic.”

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