Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Sunday defended his fresh pitch for special category status, stressing that in addition to own expenses, states were saddled with a sizeable share of cost of central schemes.
Kumar said this at 'Bhim Sansad' in Patna, a public meeting organised by the JD(U) on the occasion of Constitution Day, in the honour of Babasaheb Bhim Rao Ambedkar.
"We are followers of socialist icon Ram Manohar Lohia who had close ties with Ambedkar. Babasaheb and Lohia happen to be the five persons whom our party officially looks up to for inspiration, the other three being Mahatma Gandhi, Jayaprakash Narayan and (former Bihar CM) Karpoori Thakur", said Kumar, who also remarked, without taking any names, "those in power at the Centre now had played no role in the drafting of Constitution".
The longest serving CM of the state spoke about the various measures taken under his stewardship for the uplift of weaker sections of society, including the recent hike in reservations for SCs, STs, OBCs and extremely backward classes.
"We took the step after a caste survey which has brought to light that the state is home to 94 lakh poor families. We intend to undertake many more measures for poverty alleviation a reason why I intend to launch a fresh campaign for special status", said Kumar, who has been raising the demand for nearly a decade.
"I solicit the support of people of the state for my campaign. Our critics say the central government is providing us with enough assistance. It is nonsense. The Centre launches schemes and tries to get away with the entire credit while the states are made to bear 40 per cent of the expenses", alleged the JD(U) leader, who had snapped ties with the BJP last year and has since emerged as a key leader of the INDIA coalition.
In his trademark conversational style, Kumar turned towards journalists present on the occasion and said, "I also urge you people to support my demand for special status to Bihar which will benefit all segments of society".
"I know you are unable to work with freedom. Do not worry. Once we get rid of the current regime at the Centre, you will be able to wield your pen as per your conscience. Till then, you can at least use your social media outreach in support of our cause", said Kumar.
The 'Bhim Sansad' was organised by state minister Ashok Choudhary, seen as the Dalit face of the JD(U) which counts on OBCs, other than Yadavs, and extremely backward classes, as its core base.
The congregation was also addressed by other senior leaders including JD(U) president Rajiv Ranjan Singh "Lalan".