Patna: Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar today rubbished Prime Minister Narendra Modi's election-eve Rs 1.25 lakh crore special package as “repackaging of old projects” and took him on for branding the state as BIMARU.
Kumar also assailed Modi's manner of announcing the economic package, contending it looked like it was “an auction of Bihar”.
“How many times will you slaughter a chicken. He has repackaged old projects,” Kumar told reporters, barely an hour after Modi had left the state after announcing the package for state's economic revival.
The bonhomie on display in the morning when Kumar had gone to receive Modi at the airport had vanished as he tore into the Prime Minister's claims about building a ‘naya Bihar'.
“He talks about cooperative federalism but does exactly the opposite. He will humiliate the state government, call it incompetent... What kind of cooperative federalism is this?” he said.
On PM's remark that Kumar had pleaded with the erstwhile UPA government for a Rs 12,000 crore package and also Modi's “arrogant” barb against him, the Bihar Chief Minister said,”He calls me a ‘Yachak' (supplicant) and an arrogant man at the same time. This is contradictory.”
Kumar once again trashed Modi's BIMARU remark to describe Bihar.“Bihar government has built 66,500 km roads, over 5000 bridges, brought down school dropout rate to 1.5 per cent from 12.5 per cent and footfall at primary health centres has gone up to 11,000 every month from mere 39 in 2005,” he said, rejecting the laggard tag and presenting the picture of a turnaround under his stewardship.
Rebutting Modi's remark that Bihar government had failed to expend previous two packages of Rs 10,000 crore and Rs 12,000 crore provided by the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government and the UPA dispensation, Kumar said, those were to be implemented by the Central agencies and he cannot be faulted for it.
“Mr PM perhaps is not aware that works under these packages were to be done by Central agencies...so the charge of being laggard should be directed against the Central agencies and not the state government,” he said. Kumar said Bihar had always been insisting on grant of special status and not financial packages in order to attract investments to give a thrust to economic activity.
“Are those states which have been accorded special status BIMARU. Special category status is given to states to make them attractive destinations for investors,” he said.
Claiming that the Rs 1.25 lakh crore package was “no package but merely repackaging of old projects”, Kumar gave details of several schemes included in it which had been sanctioned earlier.
For building a new airport in Patna a sum of Rs 2700 crore has been included in the special package, he said.
“We have been hearing about this for long but no money has been allocated for acquiring 1500 acres of land needed for new the new airport,” the CM said, adding “we can understand what would be the fate of this (package)”.
Likewise, he said the ultra mega power project at Banka for which PM today announced Rs 20,000 crore was actually approved when Sushil Kumar Shinde (of Congress) was power minister.
“After we had arranged for everything including water, land etc the work did not start and now he has announced it as if it's something new,” Kumar said.
The Prime Minister announced Rs 404 crore for digital Bihar as part of the special package, Kumar said and wanted to know if the state was not part of Centre's Digital India programme.
The Chief Minister sought to know if budgetary provisions had been made for the projects included in the special package.
“There is no alignment, no DPR of these projects.
How can we trust it will be implemented?” he wondered.“Fifty thousand crore...sixty thousand crore...it looked like as if Bihar was being auctioned. Auctioning Bihar by way of a special package is similar to his earlier promise of depositing Rs 15-20 lakh in the accounts of every citizen from the black money that would come to the country from abroad,” he said.
On his criticism by PM for returning the donation received from Gujarat for rehabilitation of Kosi flood victims, Kumar said, “While giving Rs 5 crore the then Gujarat CM publicised it in newspapers that Gujarat was the biggest donor. Many states had made bigger donations but nobody spoke about it.”
“Besides, when I returned Rs 5 crore he lost no time to get it encashed...while he talks of my returning the donation, he does not speak about getting it encashed without losing any time,” Kumar said sarcastically.
“Even after this episode why BJP fought the 2010 Bihar election under my leadership? What is the rationale of raising the issue now?” he said.
Kumar said the state had submitted a memorandum to the Centre after taking on board all political parties and sought a special assistance of Rs 1,40,571 crore following its bifurcation and creation of Jharkhand.
The projects under it included a Metro, three power plants, panchayat bhawans, mega food parks and an integrated steel plant, among others. “The Rs 1.25 lakh crore special package is as if all committed liabilities of the Central government have been added together,” Kumar said.