Congress led JD(U) up the garden path on special status: Jaitley

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As Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar frowned at the Centre, the BJP on Monday took a dig at him, saying he was led up the “garden path” by Congress on the issue of special status and hinted that this had led to its split with BJP.

Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley said the assurance offered by the Congress to Mr. Kumar was more political than linked to the economic necessities of Bihar and the special status did not come once the JD(U) was on its own after breaking up with BJP.

“The UPA’s intention was to lead JD(U) up the garden path that the special category status to Bihar was indeed coming. I do not know how the astute leadership of JD(U) fell for this,” he wrote on his blog.

His statement came a day after Mr. Kumar staged a day-long protest in Patna against the Centre’s failure to grant special category status to Bihar.

Hinting that the promise had prompted Kumar to part ways with BJP, Mr. Jaitley said, “Coincidentally the signalling towards this special category status was also at the same time when the JD(U)-BJP split took place.”

Once the JD(U) was on its own, the special category status did not come, the BJP leader said.

Taking a swipe, he said, “in the ‘swayamvar’ (process of choosing a life partner from among many) between Lalu Prasad-led RJD and JD(U), the Congress party preferred its old ally (RJD).”

Citing reports that Congress and JD(U) may consider an alliance after the talks between Congress and RJD have somewhat stalemated, Jaitley said Congress has already double-crossed JD(U) on special category status.

The JD(U)-BJP government in Bihar had repeatedly demanded the special category status and there is a near consesus on the issue among political parties in the state, he said.

He also appeared to support the similar demand from other states in eastern India like Odisha and West Bengal, saying they have not economically progressed in comparison to others and suffered from natural disadvantages.

BJD and Trinamool Congress have been pressing for special status for Odisha and West Bengal, respectively.

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