Home >politics >policy >Souring BJP-JDU ties disrupts 15th Finance Commission’s Bihar visit

New Delhi: The souring alliance between the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Janata Dal (United), or JDU, in Bihar has delayed plans of the 15th Finance Commission to visit the state to hold its customary consultations. The 15th Finance Commission has postponed its visit to the state scheduled for 9-12 July to meet chief minister Nitish Kumar and local authorities.

“Things have worsened after Nitish Kumar’s speech at NITI Aayog where he demanded special status for Bihar," a government official in knowledge of the development said under condition of anonymity.

In the governing council meeting of the NITI Aayog on 17 June, though Kumar supported the terms of reference mandating the 15th Finance Commission to use 2011 census data for population instead of 1971 census data, he reiterated his demand for special category status for Bihar. A similar demand from Andhra Pradesh had led to breakdown of BJP’s alliance with Chandrababu Naidu’s Telugu Desam Party.

Interestingly, Kumar’s demand for a special status for Bihar was also echoed by Union minister Ram Vilas Paswan, chief of Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) which is a key component of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) in Bihar. The demand for the special status for the state by two NDA allies has added pressure on the ruling BJP.

Kumar, however, termed the rise in state share of central taxes to 42% from 32% under the 14th Finance Commission as merely a compositional shift. The government has mandated the 15th Finance Commission to review the higher tax share to states keeping in view rising expenditure demand for central government programmes.

The official quoted earlier said the 15th Finance Commission visit to Bihar may be postponed until the relationship between the alliance partners improve. “BJP party president Amit Shah is scheduled to visit Bihar on 11-12 July after which things will be much clearer," the official said.

A spokesperson of the Finance Commission did not respond to a call and message seeking a comment.

Differences between BJP and JD(U) emerged after Kumar demanded that agreement on distribution of 40 Lok Sabha seats between alliance partners of NDA should be reached at the earliest.

Bihar is important for NDA as the ruling alliance had won 31 out of the 40 Lok Sabha seats during 2014 general elections. The BJP leadership is keen that the party’s political dominance continues in 2019 as well. Interestingly, other NDA alliance partners, LJP and Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (RLSP) are not keen to reduce their seat share.

The NDA in Bihar suffered a setback in February this year when former Bihar chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi decided to walk out of the alliance and joined hands with Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and Congress combine.

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