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Nitish Kumar 'hopeful' after meeting with Prime Minister over Bihar's special status

CNN-IBN
Mar 18, 2013 at 06:25pm IST

New Delhi: Bihar Chief Minister and the Janata Dal (United) leader Nitish Kumar on Monday met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Finance Minister P Chidambaram and Planning Commission Deputy Chairperson Montek Singh Ahluwalia to discuss granting of special status to Bihar. Nitish said the meeting with the Prime Minister has given him a hope that the issue would be taken up at a higher level.

Nitish later said the demand gathered an urgency, given the limited time frame before 2014 Lok Sabha elections. Nitish's lobbying for special status for Bihar has political implications, with a possibility that he will end the JD(U)'s links with the BJP and join hands with the Congress.

The meeting took place just a day after Nitish addressed a massive rally at Delhi's Ramlila Ground in support of special status for Bihar. During the Adhikar rally on Sunday, Nitish signalled his intentions of playing a bigger role in national politics.

Nitish Kumar 'hopeful' after meeting Prime Minister

The JD(U) leader said his demand gathered an urgency, given the limited time frame before 2014 Lok Sabha elections.

The Janata Dal (United) leader declared that his fight for a special status to the state would continue till the Centre accepted it. Buoyed by the cheering crowd which numbered over 50,000, Nitish delivered an impassioned speech and in a well-crafted move also exhorted other backward states to demand special status.

He hinted that he would not hesitate to support the party which helped him achieve special status for Bihar. The call for other backward states to join his struggle is being seen as Kumar trying to position himself as a leader of a possible non-Congress, non-Bharatiya Janata Party led political front in 2014.

The statement can be seen as a warning to the BJP, which incidentally is his ally in the Bihar, to not take him for granted. Kumar also tried to position himself as a possible rival to Narendra Modi by taking a potshot at the Gujarat Chief Minister, who has been claiming that he has set a new benchmark by turning Gujarat into a developed state.

Kumar said that he had turned around Bihar during the last seven years of his rule and his agenda was to ensure that all sections of the society were able to reap the benefits of development. He went on to add that only those who had an inclusive developmental agenda would be able to rule India.

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