Welcoming Raghuram Rajan panel report which has put Bihar among the least developed states, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar today described it as a 'victory' for the state but was non-committal on alliance with Congress for the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections.
"Do not talk of politics today... We will take stock of the political situation at our Chintan Shivir at Rajgir on October 28-29 next," Nitish Kumar said when asked whether favourable report by the UPA government would pave the way for an alliance between JD(U) and Congress for 2014 Lok Sabha polls.
Nitish Kumar had in the past said that his party would extend support in 2014 Parliamentary elections whoever supported Bihar's demand for the special category status.
The Raghuram Rajan Committee report, which puts Bihar among 10 least developed states is being seen as the Congress reaching out to JD(U).
Incidentally, the JD(U) has severed its 17-year-long alliance with BJP in June over the elevation of Narendra Modi as the party's poll panel chief.
Nitish Kumar said the revisiting of criteria for declaring backwardness as carried by the sub-committee headed by Raghuram Rajan would "open all doors for future economic assistance".
However, it would have been better if the panel had taken per capita income as criteria for deciding economic backwardness of the states instead of per capita consumption, the CM Nitish Kumar said.
"But, still even this form of the report is also welcomed," he said and added that he had thanked Union Finance Minister P Chidambaram for the 'positive' report.
Nitish Kumar, who visited JD(U) state headquarters to share his happiness over the report with partymen, was greeted with drum beats and bursting of crackers.
JD(U) Rajya Sabha MP, RCP Singh, state party spokespersons Sanjay Singh and Rajeev Ranjan Prasad flanked Chief Minister Nitish Kumar at the press meet at party headquarters.
About the panel report not mentioning the special category status, Kumar said that Union Finance Minister P Chidambaram had said it was subsumed in the report and the finance ministry would look into it for future actions.
"But, the report is still something akin to it (special category status)," a visibly upbeat Bihar CM said, adding, it would help in more devolution of Central funds, tax exemptions and lowering of the state's share in Central assistance.
"The report is a victory of JD(U) principles... I will not rest on laurels but continue to work hard so that the issue reaches logical conclusion," he claimed and greeted nine other states featuring among the least developed states saying they too would derive benefits.
"Bihar launched the struggle which has benefited nine other states also," he said.
Asked if it meant forging a regional front with those states on it, Nitish Kumar said, "We launched a struggle for special category status for Bihar... And it is good it helped other states also."
Talking about the Opposition's criticism of the panel report, Kumar said it would look for some 'negativity' to hit out at him.
"But, I am not bothered about it as I am committed to the welfare of the masses who has given me the responsibility as the CM," Nitish Kumar said.
Referring to the criticism of the report by his former deputy Sushil Kumar Modi, Nitish Kumar said, "Had he been with me, he would have been the first person to jump in joy over the report... But since he is now under the influence of some ideology of their great leader (Narendra Modi) what positive can be expected from him ?"
Referring to RJD president Lalu Prasad, Nitish Kumar said he had first claimed that the special category status demand was actually mooted by him and his party and later said it would not yield any help to Bihar.
"These people (Opposition leaders) are gripped with negativism.. I am not bothered about their comments," he said.
Attributing this success to the hard work of JD(U) workers, he referred to the Adhikar rally held here last year and in Delhi this March and said, "These demonstrations compelled the Centre to address our genuine demand... This is because of the hard work of our workers."
Meanwhile, the Congress here claimed the credit for Raghuram Rajan's panel report and said it was a step forward in achieving the special category status for the state.
Bihar Congress President Ashok Chaudhary in a press communique expressed gratitude to UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress Vice-president Rahul Gandhi for this.
"These leaders have been there from the beginning showing a positive inclination for Bihar getting the special category status and Raghuram Rajan's report is a result of that," he said.
"Congress had supported an all-party resolution on the issue in Bihar Assembly and the party Chintan Shivir in Jaipur had decided to adopt an affirmative approach towards it," Chaudhary was quoted as saying by media in-charge Prem Chand Mishra.
"By displaying an effective role, Congress has lived up to its commitment towards the people of Bihar," Chaudhary said before making a scathing attack on BJP for taking a "negative viewpoint" on the issue.