New Delhi: The Janata Dal (United) is following a wait and watch policy after government sources indicated that they are looking at accepting Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's demand for a special status for the state. JD(U) leader Shivanand Tiwari said, "We don't know what the government is planning to propose on Bihar. We can comment on it only once we see something on paper. Our alliance with NDA has been smooth. But who knows about the future?"
Sources say that with Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav threatening to withdraw his party's outside support, the government is looking for new allies. Top government sources indicate to CNN-IBN that the Centre will shortly review backward criteria for states and may meet Bihar's long-standing demand for the special category status, something which the Bihar Chief Minister underscored at his massive rally in Delhi only last week.
Government sources indicate that it has been decided to review and change the criteria of backward states. Bihar, parts of Rajasthan, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand could now be covered under the new parameter.
The government indicated that the existing criteria of backwardness like 'Hilly State' is now obsolete. The new criteria will take socio-economic factors into account.
In addition to all this, the Finance Commission may give relief to debt-ridden states. The Finance Commission award may provide relief for Mamata Banerjee as West Bengal reels under a huge debt.
All these developments come amidst growing bitterness between Mulayam Singh Yadav and the Congress, especially after the DMK withdrew from the UPA and the SP leader taking the cue set out to revive his Third Front agenda. With the UPA approaching the last year of its five-year term, new alignments are at work as political parties posture and position themselves in preparations for the next Lok Sabha polls.
This is how Manmohan Singh's UPA stands currently:
Total - 539
UPA - 232
Half-way mark - 270
Congress - 202
NCP - 9
Others - 21
Outside Support - 49
TMC - 19