PATNA: Bihar Chief Minister and JD(U) national president Nitish Kumar is preparing to oppose possible changes in the 15th Finance Commission’s terms of reference in order to ensure the state does not lose out on its share in central taxes.
A day after meeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi, Kumar reportedly directed Bihar’s senior finance department officials to prepare a memorandum to be submitted to the PM and the Finance Commission chairman NK Singh on the issue.
“With pressure building from southern states to take into account only the 1971 Census data and instead of the 2011 Census data, any such change in the Finance Commission’s terms of reference would hit Bihar’s fiscal condition massively. This is a very serious issue, and the CM is committed to have it addressed by the Centre,” said a senior leader of Kumar’s JD(U).
In order to build political consensus on the matter, the state government has convened an all-party meeting to be held on May 5. The meeting, to be chaired by Assembly Speaker Vijay Kumar Chaudhary, will help project a unanimous voice. JD(U) sources said Kumar’s ruling ally BJP has offered “in principle support” to his concerns. An all-party delegation of leaders will meet finance commission chairman NK Singh with a memorandum on the issue later this month.
Kumar had discussed the matter with senior colleagues of all the four NDA partners in the state soon after the southern states had sought incentives in central tax sharing for their better performance in keeping the population in check. In a meeting held in Thiruvananthapuram last month, the southern states had opposed the Finance Commission’s move to lay a larger weightage to the 2011 Census.
While the southern states managed to check their population rise efficiently and ensured that their share in national population fell from 24 per cent in 1971 to about 20 per cent in 2011, Bihar’s population rose by almost 25 per cent between 1991 and 2011. JD(U) feels the PM’s suggestion last month to the Finance Commission to consider incentivising states who have performed better in population control would harm Bihar.