Patna: Bihar Chief Minister Nitish on Friday hailed Finance Minister P. Chidambaram for promising to revisit criteria for special category status and said that it was a 'victory in-principle' for Bihar in view of its consistent demand for grant of such a status.

"We have been demanding review of criteria for special status to the states for a long time and framing of new criterion for grant of such a status to backward states like Bihar....I am glad that Chidambaram has referred to revisiting criteria for special status during his budget speech," Kumar told reporters.

"It is the victory of the people of Bihar (on Centre agreeing to revisit special status criteria) and Chidambaram deserves kudos for understanding our aspirations for development," Kumar said.

Describing the Centre's stand on the special status as a 'positive sign,' the Chief Minister hoped that the former will live up its promises on the special status issue. The Centre's promise to look into criteria for special status in the economic survey as well as the budget speech has fuelled hope among the people of Bihar that the special status was a realistic demand that can be achieved, he said, adding that our crusade on the issue has in any case entered into an interesting phase with the JD(U) organizing a rally in Delhi on March 17 next to press for grant of special status.

Kumar expressed hope that the Finance Commission and the Planning Commission will provide funds to Bihar by taking into account economic backwardness in the state in the wake of an apparent acknowledgement of the same by Chidambaram in the budget speech. The Chief Minister, however, ruled out a political meaning of his lavish praise for the Finance Minister and said that no such conjecture should be made as the Centre's commitment to revisit the special status.

The Centre's commitment to review special status criteria has opened door for backward states like Bihar and everybody should rally behind the ongoing endeavour on special status, Kumar said. The Chief Minister, however, concurred with the mediapersons when asked whether this budget has formulated keeping in view the next general elections and said "the budget has indeed been prepared by keeping in mind the next general is also clear that this is the last full budget before the next polls and the next year's budget will only be 'half budget."

Kumar exuded confidence that the Centre will continue to provide special assistance to Bihar under the Backward Region Grant Fund (BRGF) window as was done during the 11th plan under the Bihar State Reorganization Act. He also lauded the Finance Minister for reiterating potential of the Eastern region states to be flagbearer of the second green revolution and raising the budgetary provision in this regard in the budget for 2013-14.

However, there was need for more allocation of funds to push the second green revolution in the Eastern region states and particularly to Bihar which has framed an agriculture road map for growth of farm sector, he said. The Chief Minister described as inadequate and 'token' the provision for Rs 10,000 crore for food security and the centre should hike allocation on this count in view of burden on the states on account of implementation of the food security act.

The Union Finance Minister came into for sharp praise from Kumar for promising to provide sufficient development for setting up the Nalanda International University in Bihar and its development as a centre for excellence of learning of global standard.


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