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Nitish Kumar's move on seeking financial package is start of 2019 action

Nitish Kumar wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi this week to press for his demand, which comes amid talk that he may emerge as a possible consensus candidate of the anti-BJP block.

, ET Bureau|
Updated: May 31, 2017, 12.28 AM IST
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Nitish will be in position to target PM, who had made several promises, including one on Rs 1.25 lakh crore package, says a JD(U) leader.
Nitish will be in position to target PM, who had made several promises, including one on Rs 1.25 lakh crore package, says a JD(U) leader.
NEW DELHI: Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar’s move to revive his demand for special category status and special assistance to the state is being seen as part of his positioning in the run-up to the 2019 general election.

Kumar wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi this week to press for his demand, which comes amid talk that he may emerge as a possible consensus candidate of the anti-BJP block to challenge the PM, even as he chose to meet Modi and skip the lunch hosted by Congress president Sonia Gandhi for parties opposed to the ruling BJP-led National Democratic Alliance.

“His demand for special category status to Bihar will put him in a politically advantageous position,” a person close to Kumar told ET. “If he emerges as the main face of a possible anti-BJP block, he will be in position to target the PM, who had made several promises including a special package of Rs 1.25 lakh crore during his campaign in the 2012 assembly polls.”

Significantly, Kumar’s letter to the PM pressing for his demand of special category status to Bihar began with achievements during his ongoing rule in the state. “In the last 12 years, state government has been working diligently for the allround development of Bihar so that the state can also stand along the developed states,” it said.

While the issue of special category status to Bihar is considered to be Kumar’s weapon against the BJP, a section of people felt this issue can also pave the way for him to return as an ally of the NDA. “If the Centre considers his demand and fulfils it, it will boost Nitish’s image as Sushasan (good governance) Babu,” said one of the persons, who did not wish to be identified.

However, the BJP-led government at the Centre is unlikely to accede to this demand without looking for its own political benefit.

Meanwhile, Kumar is said to be in wait-and-watch mode about the ongoing attempts to forge unity among opposition parties ahead of the 2019 polls to take on PM Modi.

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