Jaitley, Nitish dare PM for debate on Bihar fund claims

“(On Saturday), a remark was made that the Central funds are not being utilised properly in Bihar. The fund the Central government collects is taxpayers’ money. That is not the property of the Congress party,” BJP leader Arun Jaitley said at a press meet along with Chief Minister Nitish Kumar here.

Accusing the prime minister of adopting “hit-and-run” tactics and misleading people about the Central assistance to Bihar, Nitish challenged him for an open debate on these issues.

“I fully respect Manmohan Singh as prime minister and also leader of the country, though it is a different matter that the former treats another person (Sonia Gandhi) as his leader,” the JD(U) leader remarked sarcastically while taking a swipe at Singh for his statement.

Jaitley took strong exception to Singh’s remarks that the Bihar government had failed to fully implement Centrally-sponsored schemes but was taking credit for them. Jaitley said people contribute to the Central funds by giving taxes and it is the right of every state to get its share. “Injustice is being done to Bihar. The prime minister should have analysed Bihar as an economist and not as a politician,” he said.

Addressing an election meeting in Bihar, the prime minister had said “it is unfortunate to know that the state government is taking credit for the schemes of the Central government and their benefits are not reaching those intended.”

The prime minister had said that there are people who project a secular image but hitch up with divisive forces. Referring to Singh’s charge that the NDA government had failed to discharge its responsibilities for utilisation of the assistance worth Rs 1,000 crore provided by the Centre since 2004, the chief minister said “there is no substance in it.”

Kumar said under the Bihar Reorganisation Act, which came into force when Jharkhand was carved out of Bihar, the NDA government had devised a formula for providing special package of Rs 1,000 crore every year since 2002 to compensate the losses incurred by the state with the minerally rich areas going to Jharkhand.

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