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Nitish calls for Bihar Band: Political Assertion or Just Frustration

Kumar’s call for bandh is significant as it will give him a talking point before general and assembly elections in Bihar. But it is unlikely that the shutdown call would help him. It’s more an expression of frustration than a sound political move.

Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar has given a call for bandh on March 1 in the state. Nitish is trying to show his sulk over Congress-led UPA government granting special status to Seemandhra sidelining Bihar’s demand for the same.

“This is betrayal with Bihar and other backward states,” Kumar reportedly said from the premises of the state assembly in Patna.

The agitated Chief Minister appealed to all political parties and people from all walks of life to stop work on March 1 to protest the Congress-led UPA government’s ‘betrayal’ with Bihar and press for similar status to the state.

“We have no problem with Seemandhra getting special category status but the same has been denied to Bihar despite a favourable recommendation of the Raghuram Rajan Committee,” Kumar said.

“UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi advocated for the special category status to Seemandhra and it was promised by the Prime Minister overnight… But, a similar legitimate demand of Bihar is lying in the cold storage,” he added.

It should be noted that not long ago Kumar was cosying up with the Congress party after his fallout with former alliance partner Bhartiya Janata Party. The speculations of him joining UPA were pretty high and political circuits had started speaking of Rahul Gandhi-Nitish Kumar’s new found friendship.

But his numerous meeting with the prime minister Manmohan Singh, finance minister P Chidambaram and former finance minister and now president Pranab Mukherjee yielded absolutely nothing. In fact, Congress president Sonia Gandhi too did not listen to his appeals.

With Congress denying special status to Bihar, Kumar will have to wait for the next government to fulfill one of his main poll promise to the people of his state. In likely circumstances, if Modi becomes the prime minister and announces a special package for Bihar, Nitish’s political prospects will land into a sour soup.

Although Kumar’s prospects in the state are already diminishing, it might further affect his chances of coming back to power in the state in 2015.

With the third front taking shape and Nitish being a front-runner in it, the upsetting of Congress was almost certain. Kumar’s call for bandh is significant as it will give him a talking point before general and assembly elections in Bihar. But it is unlikely that the shutdown call would help him. It’s more an expression of frustration than a sound political move.

Meanwhile, former deputy Chief Minister and senior BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi too has given a call for ‘Rail roko’ on February 28 to protest the Centre’s ‘discriminatory’ approach towards the state. Reportedly, asked if BJP would participate in the March 1 bandh called by the CM, Modi answered that Kumar announced the bandh without consulting all political parties.

-with inputs from agencies

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