Bihar's ruling Janata Dal-United has floated radical ideas of reforms like abolition of all Centrally-sponsored schemes in the party manifesto. At the same time, this Bharatiya Janata Party ally has also made it clear that it will not allow the saffron party to implement its 'radical' political agenda.
While the BJP and its prime ministerial aspirant Lal Krishna Advani are banking on the coalition's performance in Bihar's 40 Lok Sabha seats, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar said on Friday: "Issues like abolition of Article 370 and application of the Uniform Civil Code can't have any place in governance. They may exist in the manifesto of individual parties. But if our party joins the next government, we will not allow it to pursue these agenda."
At a time when other political quarters are eyeing the possibility of JD-U joining their fronts, interestingly, Kumar, flanked by party chief Sharad Yadav and parliamentarians like NK Singh and Shivanand Tiwari, didn't make any specific commitment to bring Advani or the National Democratic Alliance in power. But he said, "our strength will play an important role to give direction to the next government."
In its election manifesto, before any other issue, the JD-U reaffirmed its stand on communalism and Ram Mandir. "The party is clear about its zero tolerance towards communal violence. It doesn't subscribe to ideas like building Ram Mandir, implementing the Uniform Civil Code, etc." Kumar later clarified that the Ram Mandir issue can only be resolved through consensus or court order.
Kumar strongly advocated scrapping of all Centrally-sponsored scheme saying, "without consulting the states, the Centre makes its own schemes and then presses us to implement them. This is dangerous. Let states decide what they want to do."
"The Centre wants to make model schools in different parts of the states. So, are we promoting two different standards of education in India? The Centre can concentrate on higher education but not in other areas. I can build four secondary schools at the cost of one model school," the CM said.
Another radical proposal envisages transfer of subsidy directly to the beneficiaries through bank accounts. "The central government gives large amount of subsidies in various areas like fertilisers or fair price shops. But these don't reach the target group. Let us quantify the subsidy amount, identify the target population and give the money directly to them," he added.
Kumar also pitted for higher devolution of taxes from the current rate of around 30 per cent to at least 50 per cent. While he sought to make the National Development Council a statutory body, the chief minister wants a special category status for Bihar from the next government to get more investments and infrastructure.
Through the manifesto and his assertions, Kumar's aim was clearly to showcase the development plank of his govermment and his pro-minority face. "Those who are backward must be given more facilities. Dalit Muslims and dalit Christians in the Scheduled Castes category should be included in the list of Scheduled Castes," he said while suggesting that state and general elections should be held together and that too, only once in five years because "regular elections hamper a lot of work!"