PATNA: The 15th Finance Commission on Monday assured the Bihar government that the state’s demand for an increased share of central funds would be considered “sympathetically”.
Finance Commission chairman NK Singh, who is leading a team of the central body currently on a three-day visit to Bihar, however, did not comment on Bihar’s demand for granting the state special category state status.
“We will certainly look into Bihar’s case sympathetically. I would assure you that the Commission would sympathetically consider the issue of regional inequality, particularly in eastern India,” said Singh at a national seminar on ‘Addressing the problems of inter-state and inter-district disparity in India’.
Bihar Assembly Speaker Vijay Kumar Chaudhary, speaking at the seminar, reiterated the state government’s demand for according special category state status. The demand, which has the support of all the political parties in the state, has been raised by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on several occasions, but with little positive response from the Centre.
The Finance Commission team was earlier scheduled to visit Bihar from July 9 to 12, but it was postponed due to souring relations between the state’s main ruling allies BJP and JD(U) after Nitish Kumar’s June 17 speech at NITI Aayog where he demanded special status for the state.
The BJP-JD(U) ties were normalized after BJP president Amit Shah visited Patna on July 12 and met Nitish Kumar, who is also JD(U) national president, and dropped ample hints that the saffron party values JD(U) as an important ally to attain the aim of securing a thumping victory for NDA in next year’s Lok Sabha polls.
The Bihar government has lodged a protest against the constant decline in the state’s share in central taxes between the 12th and the 14th Finance Commissions. Deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi, who also holds the finance portfolio, recently pointed out that while Bihar’s share stood at 11.028 per cent under the 12th Finance Commission, it dropped to 10.917 per cent during the 13th Finance Commission and declined further to 9.787 per cent during the 14th Finance Commission.