Centre clears Rs 12K-cr for Bihar, is split in NDA imminent?

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nitish-kumar
New Delhi, April 19: The Union Cabinet on Thursday cleared a whopping Rs 12,000 crore special package for Bihar under the Backward Regions Grant Fund. The decision was taken just three days ahead of the resumption of the second half of the Parliament's Budget Session.

The gift was a clear signal by the fragile UPA government to reach out to the JD(U), which although is a key ally of the opposition NDA, but is having a disturbed relation with the BJP over the issue of the alliance's prime ministerial candidate.

The JD(U) has 20 MPs in the Lok Sabha and nine in the Rajya Sabha and the Congress is eyeing to get Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar into its fold to save its day after the pull-out of some of its major allies in the last eight months or so.

Agriculture Minister and chief of another UPA ally NCP Sharad Pawar clearly said in a recent interview that the UPA government will face the test of survival on each day of the second half of the Budget session as several money bills are pending. The special package to Bihar is thus viewed as a deal to help the endangered alliance live another day.

Kumar, who has expressed his disapproval of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi's candidature for the PM's post in the next Lok Sabha elections, had announced at the party's rally in Delhi on March 17 that he would support any party that grants a special status to Bihar. The Centre had also made overtures at Kumar by approving funds for the rural job scheme in the latter's state.

Kumar's open challenge to the BJP on the question of selecting a 'secular' prime ministerial candidate gave the Congress a golden opportunity to serve itself an oxygen supply line.

Just days later after Kumar's challenge to the BJP, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs approved the Planning Commission's proposal to grant Rs 3,000 crore a year to Bihar from 2013-14 to 2016-17. It is double the amount which was allocated to the state by the plan panel last year.

Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari, however, said there was nothing political in the decision to grant Bihar the special package.

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