Nitish Kumar's happiness lies in the fact that Bihar is set to receive more funds for development, even if not special category status, under a new criteria to measure backwardness.
The committee has suggested splitting states into three categories and subsumed the previous special category criteria for providing special assistance to poorer states. "The new criteria will enable Bihar get more funds from the centre," Nitish Kumar said confidently.
"Now, we will work hard for getting more funds for the development of state.It was the main logic behind the demand for special category status" he added.
He hinted that his Janata Dal-United (JD-U) will use this use this as its main plank during the Lok Sabha polls followed by the assembly polls.
"It is going to change the course of country's politics. Now politics will veer around development"Nitish Kumar said.
Soon after Nitish Kumar described committee report as a victory for Bihar, JD-U leaders and workers in Patna and other parts of the state celeberated by distributing sweets and throwing coloured powder to the beating of drums.
The chief minister targeted his rivals for mocking the special staus demand, saying it was a big blow to their negative politics.
Lalu Prasad charged Nitish Kumar with misleading the people in the name of special staus, while BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi said the committee report had made a mountain out of a mole hill.
It is for sure that the demand for special category status was first raised by then chief minister Rabri Devi in early 2000 as a mere political ritual. She and her RJD never tried to turn it into an issue for development, like Nitish Kumar did.
He not only reiterated the demand, but relentlessly campaigned for it for over five years. His argument was based on Bihar lagging behind the national averages for human development and economic growth.
He pointed out that Bihar's per capita income, investments and electricity consumption are the lowest in the country and it also lags in all human resource indices.
Bihar would take at least 25 years to touch the national average of economic growth without special category status, Nitish Kumar maintained.
To put pressure on the centre, the JD-U held a rally in Patna last year and in New Delhi early this year to push its demand. The JD-U also collected over 10 million signatures on the issue.
Ironically, the committee was set up in the wake of Nitish Kumasr's demand.
The committee suggested evolving a composite development index of states and the doing away of the special category status criterion for providing additional assistance to poorer States. The committee was asked to suggest methods for identifying backwardness using a variety of criteria and also to recommend how the criteria should be reflected in future planning and devolution of funds from the centre to the states.
Finance Minister P. Chidambaram, to whom the committee has submitted the report, said it has suggested a "multi-dimensional index" of backwardness based on per capita consumption as measured by the National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO), the poverty ratio and a number of other measures which correspond to the multi-dimensional approach to defining poverty outlined in the 12th Five-Year Plan (2012-17).
(Imran Khan can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
--IANS (Posted on 27-09-2013)