To woo Nitish Kumar, Govt set to clear special package for Bihar

Nitish KumarBihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar. (AP)

PERSISTING with its efforts to woo Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar although he may not double over with joy, the government is set to consider Cabinet approval on Thursday for a Rs 12,000 crore "special package" for the state that will be routed through the Backward Region Grant Fund.

If approved, Bihar will get the funds over the next four years (remainder of the 12th plan) to spend on projects related to energy, water resources, environment and forests and construction of state highways and roads. The proposal, however, falls short of the Rs 20,000 crore that Nitish had wanted besides ignoring his appeal for giving Bihar status of a special category state.

What is noteworthy though, is that Thursday's CCEA proposal does not include any allocation for West Bengal. The other significant beneficiary that will avail of funds under BRGF is the Bundelkhand region, which will get a substantial allocation of Rs 4,400 crore. Three districts of Orissa will also get an allocation of Rs 250 crore annually.

Bihar has been getting funds under the BRGF to the tune of Rs 1,000 to Rs 1,500 crore a year since 2003. The allocation for this year though will increase to Rs 2,000 crore. Over the last few months, the UPA has been making overtures towards JD(U) in the backdrop of indications that the latter could break away from the NDA. Such a hint first came when Nitish broke away from the BJP on the Presidential polls last year, supporting Pranab Mukherjee's candidature. Last week, he queered the pitch when he said he wouldn't compromise on the secular image for NDA's PM nominee, a message to the BJP that he was rejecting Modi's candidature.

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