NDA ally JDU demands special status for Bihar in Lok Sabha

Quoting a NITI Aayog report, ranking the state among the poorest, JD-U MP Sunil Kumar Pintu demanded this so that the state can join the ranks of developed states.

Published: 15th December 2021 03:49 AM  |   Last Updated: 15th December 2021 08:43 AM   |  A+A-


Parliament (Photo | PTI)

By Express News Service

NEW DELHI:  NDA’s ally JD-U on Tuesday raised the demand for special status for Bihar in Lok Sabha.

Quoting a NITI Aayog report, ranking the state among the poorest, JD-U MP Sunil Kumar Pintu demanded this so that the state can join the ranks of developed states.

Taking part in the discussion over supplementary demands for grants, Pintu blamed the Centre for accepting the demand for special status.

The Bihar chief minister has repeatedly requested the Centre for the grant of the special category status, not a special package, so that the state can attract industries, he said.

Industries would come only when the government accords the special category status to Bihar, he added.

Following the release of the report, the Nitish Kumar government in Bihar made a fresh pitch for the grant of special category status to the state, a demand it has been making for the "past 10-12 years".

In a letter to NITI Aayog vice chairman Rajiv Kumar, the state's Minister for Planning and Implementation Bijendra Yadav asserted that Bihar "fulfilled all the criteria" set for grant of special status.

The opposition latched on to the NITI Aayog report to rubbish the claim of "rapid development" of the state since Nitish Kumar's ascent to power.

The JD-U, incidentally, has begun raising this issue after a long gap.

This was not raised during the 2020 Bihar elections, when the Nitish Kumar-led outfit contested polls in alliance with BJP.

Bihar and Odisha had previously been consistently raising the demand for the grant of special status.

However, the Centre has maintained that it wasn’t considering this demand.

Opposition members in Lok Sabha accused the Modi government of doing little for people-centric schemes and to reduce fuel prices, and charged it with selling the family silver.

The opposition charge was rejected by the BJP and its allies who asserted that the Modi government has done more for the people than past dispensations, particularly at the time of the worst pandemic of the century.

Initiating a discussion on Supplementary Demands for Grants (Second Batch) 2021-22, Shashi Tharoor (Congress) said the COVID-19 pandemic combined with the government's "short-sighted" policy decisions ushered in a period of "uncertainty" for the economic revival of India.

"Our nation's economy continues to battle the significant forces of disruption that were set in motion by the COVID-19 pandemic and which can trace their way back in our country to the disaster of demonetisation," he said.

"While we all applaud the heroic efforts of our health workers, nurses, doctors, the truth is the virus combined with the short-sighted policy decisions of this government has ushered in a period of uncertainty for the economic revival of the country," he said.

BJP member Nishikant Dubey hit back, saying the present government has done more for people than past regimes and efforts were underway to undo certain decisions taken by the erstwhile UPA government.

He said the merger of Air India and Indian Airlines, which was opposed by boards of both the companies, during the UPA regime had led to the present situation of the company which has now been disinvested.

He said Congress leader Rahul Gandhi rejected the idea of river inter-linking overruling recommendations made by leaders such as Sharad Pawar.

"Congress party has deteriorated as it did not listen to seniors and elders," he alleged.

Dubey also wondered what the RTI Act has achieved by way of improving things for the common people.

He said in places, it has created middlemen.

JD(U) member Sunil Kumar Pintu rejected Tharoor's claim that little provisions have been made in the supplementary demands for grants.

Dayanidhi Maran of the DMK slammed the government over rising prices of LPG cylinders.

Using the term "phone banking" to suggest political pressure on banks to let off defaulters, Maran said there have been instances when people have sold off their companies to rid themselves of liabilities and later bought the same entity using an alias or a new name.

Saugata Roy (TMC) flagged the issue of Air India's sale to the Tatas, saying the amount on which the company was given indicates that the government had begged the Tatas to buy it.

Roy said the government was selling its family silver, claiming that while airports have gone to the Adanis, Air India is now with the Tatas.

BJD member Bhartruhari Mahtab expressed apprehension that the government will exceed its fiscal deficit target of 6.8 per cent of the GDP despite rise in revenue collection and higher surplus transfer from the RBI.

"Tardy disinvestment progress is going to pose a risk to the fiscal deficit target for the current fiscal," Mahtab said, adding the government has realised only about five per cent of its total target.

He said there has been substantial increase in GST collection but there have been delays on compensation transfer.

Supriya Sule (NCP) too wondered that the government keeps on saying that GST is doing very well but there is a delay on the part of the Centre to transfer the state's share.

She also expressed anguish over rising high-handedness on the GST authority side.

"The way people are raided. Why is GST tax terrorism is going up," she said.

On cess, she said, the government has been collecting huge amount on this count but states were not getting anything out of this.

Congress member M K Vishnu Prasad said high petrol and diesel prices have become unbearable and the government is just a mute spectator leaving people at the mercy of oil marketing companies.

Despite reduction in crude oil prices, retail fuel prices have not come down, Prasad alleged.

On the disinvestment policy, Prasad said, the government should consider options for raising its resources rather than selling its PSUs.

AIMIM member Imtiaz Jaleel made a strong demand for improving medical infrastructure in the country.

Lauding the initiative to promote ayurveda across the country, Jaleel sought to know why the government was "ignoring" Unani system of medicine.

He urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to make a surprise visit a government hospital as a commoner to understand the reality of medical infrastructure in the country.

RSP member N K Premachandran slammed the government for the "sellout" of Air India to the Tata Group and demanded that the financial details of the transaction be made public.

"What is the commitment of the government of India towards the deal? What is the financial commitment of Tatas," Premachandran said, alleging that the deal was a "sellout" as Air India owned a fleet of 122 aircraft and had landing slots at airports and offices across the world.

BJP members Janardan Sigriwal and Udai Pratap Singh lauded the prime minister for steering the nation through the COVID-19 pandemic without losing focus on development.

VCK member Thol Thirumavalavan and RLP member Hanuman Beniwal also participated in the debate.

The finance minister is expected to reply to the debate on Wednesday.


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