The Centre’s decision to grant special status to Seemandhra for five years after the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh has evoked sharp political reactions in Bihar.
Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Thursday strongly criticised the decision and called for a statewide bandh on March 2 to pressure the Centre to concede the long-pending demand for special status to Bihar. The state unit of the BJP, too, announced “Rail roko” agitation on February 28.
While inviting political parties and people from different walks of life to extend their support to this agitation, Nitish called it a total betrayal of the people of Bihar.
“The people of Bihar will not tolerate this injustice,”said the Chief Minister. “We have no problem with Seemandhra getting special category status, but the same has been denied to Bihar despite a favourable recommendation from the Raghuram Rajan Committee,” Kumar said.
“We have been demanding ‘special status’ for the last eight years and over 1.18 crore people from Bihar had put their signatures on a sheet demanding special status to the state. We also organised massive rallies in Patna and Delhi in support of the demand” elaborated Kumar.
Nitish accused the Congress party of playing politics on the issue of special status.
He also said the crucial meeting of the Finance Ministry, scheduled to have been held on November 26, 2013, to decide on the special category status to Bihar was cancelled mysteriously.
“The way Seemandra has been given special status proves that the UPA Government can grant special status to any state whenever it wanted,” he said.
On the other hand, former Deputy Chief Minister and senior BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi said his party would go ahead with the “Rail roko” agitation on February 28 to protest the Centre’s “discriminatory” approach towards the state. “We will stop trains all over Bihar,” he said.
In the meanwhile, politics over a cup of tea is warming up in Bihar as RJD members have decided to open Lalu tea stalls to counter BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi’s claim to being a tea seller.
RJD chief Lalu Prasad said that he was the “real tea seller” and Modi was junior to him in this business.
Party workers have set up the first Lalu tea stall in Muzaffarpur, and many more would soon be opened in different parts of the state.
“Lalu Chai Stall in Muzaffarpur is just a beginning of an innovative idea,” RJD leader Iqbal Shami said.Shami said that by opening such tea stalls, the party wanted to call Modi’s bluff that he sold tea at railway stations. He argues that it was Modi’s father who ran a canteen.
“In contrast to that Lalu in his childhood as a student used to sell tea to earn his livelihood,” Shami said. The RJD leader said the stall would serve free tea. “We have decided to open 17 such tea stalls in each block of the Muzaffarpur district,” he added. Another RJD leader Harendra Kumar said that Lalu tea stalls would provide an opportunity to connect with people.
However, BJP state president Mangal Pandey said Lalu tea stall was a copy of their campaign for Modi.