Updated: September 21, 2015 3:16:36 pm
Bihar’s ever agitated Chief Minister, Nitish Kumar, is in a fix these days. On one hand, he knows that the package given by the central government will change the face of Bihar, but, on the other, he has to oppose it on flimsy grounds to salvage his drowning career. Like a drowning man, he has already clutched hard at the straw called Laloo Prasad, but the tsunami of developmental politics is sure to drown his career this time.
But currently what is more important than Nitish Kumar’s drowning career is the development and resurgence of Bihar! This is what our PM Shri Narendra Modi has pledged to the state of Bihar. Unable to digest this, Nitish Kumar is resorting to confusion, calumny and conspiracies to derail Bihar’s growth. He keeps repeating his set of lies wherever he goes, most recent instance being his blog on IndianExpress.com, which you can read here.
Nitish Kumar, is clearly in an agitated state of mind, which was displayed by his public outburst against the citizens of Bihar at a recent rally. This state of mind also, maybe, accounts for his confusion on what constitutes a special package.
According to him:
- Projects where ground work is done do not qualify, since ground work has already been done.
- Projects where ground work is not done are disqualified as being not prepared, as no groundwork has been done and there is ‘no trace what-so-ever on ground’.
- Plans and commitment to fast-track implementation of projects that have been talked about for years but not seen light of the day, cannot be counted as part of the package since they had already been ‘Pre-approved’ … although as per his own admission many had been announced as far back as 2007 but not seen a semblance of actual implementation till date, eight years later.
- Projects which the BJP central government has initiated after coming into power do not count as they have already been ‘Pre-approved’ / announced.
- Projects under pioneering central government schemes / programs (such as Skill India Mission, DDUGJY, IPDS, Bharat Mala project etc) are rejected as wrongful appropriation, as they are not restricted to Bihar alone.
- Projects being executed by central agencies or non-governmental agencies under PPP cannot be counted, because, ‘how can the people of Bihar get benefits directly without the Bihar government first getting its hand on the funds?’
- Projects that are not linked to direct funding by the Ministry of Finance cannot be counted, as somehow, according to Nitish, projects by all other central government ministries and PSUs cannot benefit the people of Bihar.
Such is the classical modus operandi used by Nitish Kumar to try and deceive the people of Bihar about the historic package by the NDA government. No project in the entire universe can be considered as a part of a special package according to Nitish Kumar’s definition.
I dare Nitish Kumar, who says we are re-packaging old schemes, to show us, on ground, even one scheme which has been started! When Nitish Kumar says there are old schemes, was the money spent? If yes, where and when was it spent? How many buses are plying along the roads and bridges which were meant to be constructed?
Nitish Kumar proudly shares that most projects were approved in 2007 but doesn’t see the egg on his face. Why are these projects still pending for eight years? Does this not speak about the failure of Nitish Kumar and his new-found allies? In his eagerness to blame the central government, Nitish Kumar unknowingly accepts his failure of not being able to even get projects implemented which were supposedly approved in 2007.
The Package involves a major additional outlay for Bihar, far beyond the normal flow of central funds. Every item in the Package is either a new work or a work or scheme which has not started so far. All ongoing works have been excluded from the core package of Rs. 1,25,000 crore. Take the example of highways: Out of the total of Rs. 54,713 crore, Rs. 44,722 crore consists of projects in the pipeline newly being sanctioned, and Rs 9991 crores consists of projects which were approved earlier but have not yet commenced actual construction. They have been shown separately. The commitment in the Package is to launch and finish the new and non-started works.
The focus of the package is to actually make a difference in the lives of the people of Bihar. To give an insight, there are eight mega bridges going to be built; four on Ganga, two on Kosi and two on Son river. When we talk about the Deendayal Upadhyay Gram Jyoti Yojana it is not merely an allocation, but it will radically change the lives of the people of Bihar. World Bank recently said that two-third of Bihar population lacks electricity. The DDUGY will not only ensure 24-hour power supply to homes, it will also ensure eight-hour uninterrupted power supply for agriculture through feeder bifurcation.
The Package is a very specific and detailed list of works and not a vague collection of financial outlays. Each and every element of the Package has been specifically identified and taken into account. The time period for the Package varies from project to project. Certain items will be implemented in a shorter period of time, say 1-2 years, while others may take longer. The commitment in the Package is to provide funding for completion of the project in the stipulated period.
While raising questions continuously about the package, Nitish Kumar forgets that the tax incentives for employment generation have already come into effect. Now it is for the state government to attract manufacturers and create jobs. What has been the progress on this front? How many jobs will he create and what will be the timeline?
Nitish Kumar’s major concern is whether state government will get the funds or how will the funds be routed. He is more worried about whose hands funds will pass through rather than the progress of the people of Bihar. I would like to tell him: Nitish Kumar please do not worry about funds for these projects. These are meant the people of Bihar and will be directly utilized for public progress and not political gains.The expenditure in the Package comes from two sources; firstly the Government of India and secondly Central authorities and public undertakings. In the case of Government of India, budgetary provisions have to be done annually as per the Constitution. It is not possible to give a multi-year budget provision. Hence, necessary budget provisions will be included in the forthcoming years, as necessary, to meet the needs for completing the Package.
Hopefully, Nitish has got all his answers above. Perhaps, if he used so much time pursuing schemes pending since 2007 with his new found allies, he would not be staring at such a defeat!
– The author is a senior BJP leader in Bihar. Views expressed are personal.
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