Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Friday reiterated the demand to provide special category status for the state of Bihar. Nitish Kumar, who joined the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) in 2014, raised his demand at the Eastern Zonal Council meeting held in Odisha's Bhubaneswar.
The Indian Constitution provides the special category status to certain disadvantaged states to provide preferential treatment in the form of central assistance. The Centre pays 90 per cent of the funds for all centrally-sponsored schemes in a state-granted special status, against the 70 per cent payout provided to other states.
States that were provided special category status
In 1969, Jammu and Kashmir, Assam and Nagaland were granted special category status. Eight more states were added to the list in the following years, including Arunachal Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Sikkim, Tripura and Uttarakhand.
The parameters required for a state to be granted special category include hilly and difficult terrain, low population density or sizable share of tribal population, strategic location along borders with neighbouring countries, economic and infrastructure backwardness and non-viable state finances.
How does Bihar fare on these parameters?
Bihar has the highest number of backward districts as compared to other states, with 36 out of the 38 districts ranked as backwards according to a report by the Inter Ministry Task Group (IMGT) in 2005.
Nitish Kumar has argued that since the state is land-locked and is the least-developed in the country, its demand is justified since such states are "internationally eligible for special and differential treatment". Moreover, Kumar said that the state is below the national average on multiple parameters of development.
However, an inter-ministerial group formed in 2011 by then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had rejected the state's demands after examining its plea on the basis of these five parameters. CM Nitish Kumar had then stated that the group had reached 'pre-ordained' conclusions and that he would continue his demand.