Nitish pushes for spl category status for Bihar: Montek

New Delhi: As Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar made a fresh push for special category status to his state, the Planning Commission on Wednesday did not provide any comfort, saying the eastern state did not meet the existing criteria.

Ahead of the meeting of National Development Council (NDC) here tomorrow where the demand will be once again raised by him, Kumar met Finance Minister P Chidambaram at his residence to make a strong case.

During the meeting, Kumar handed over to Chidambaram a copy of the memorandum submitted to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh earlier to press for Bihar's long-pending demand to help spur growth.

The meeting came on a day when Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia said Bihar does not meet the existing criteria to be granted the status of special category state.

"Bihar does not meet the existing criteria according to which a state is deemed eligible for special category state.

We do recognise that Bihar and some parts do have a special problem and as part of BGRF (Backward Regions Grant Fund) we have Bihar package," Ahluwalia told reporters. He was briefing the media on the eve of the NDC meeting to be chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Kumar last week said he would raise the demand for special status state for Bihar at the NDC meeting. Special category status brings private investment in a state as investors get tax benefits.

Bihar is demanding special category status, saying it is subject to floods. Likewise, Rajasthan has made a similar demand on the ground it is subject to drought. Ahluwalia said the Planning Commission cannot address such demands by states in isolation.

"Either we have to reopen the whole question or respond (to) the demand of one state. Many states have problem," he said.

Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Himachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkin, Tripura and Uttarakhand are among the states that have been granted special category status by the Centre.